In the dog-eat-dog world of lower league football, club owners are often found delving under their sofas to find a few coppers to put towards a new striker.
Late last year, Lincoln City announced a loss of £200,000 in the previous twelve months. The figure may be small compared with other lower league clubs, but is still a burden as City try to attract the talent to consolidate their status in League Two.
As such all donations to the club, however small, are gratefully received and soon add up.
Since 2009, the ‘12th Man’ have been generating finance for Lincoln City through various fundraising events.
Julian Burley, co-founder of the 12th Man said: “In our first year, after an up and down start, we managed to raise over £2,000, which is a figure we hope to smash in our second year.”
Indeed, that target looks to be more than achievable. Within the first few weeks of 2011, over £1,000 had already been donated by Imps supporters, eager to hand over their leftover Christmas cash to the club they adore.
Andrew Helgesen, who founded the 12th Man with Burley, thinks that, despite tough economic times, fans have been no less generous with their cash.
Instead, he believes donations are linked to how well Steve Tilson’s team are doing on the pitch—meaning better form from the Imps could see even more money raised in the future.
Helgesen says: “I believe if the team are doing well, and we are getting more supporters in, people would be more willing to donate their money, so it’s more results based than anything.”
The 12th Man team do not lack ambition. Their ultimate aim is to sponsor the home shirt—an objective which is likely to cost around £50,000.
Burley continued: “A lot of the time I will be just sat there and an idea will come into my head, and if I think it’s a good idea, I will contact Andrew [Helgesen] straight away.
In the short term though, 12th Man is looking to raise enough money to purchase an advertising board at Sincil Bank, which will earn the club around £1,500. The next target will be sponsoring the GoCar stand before eventually attempting to raise the £50,000 necessary for the shirt sponsorship.
As well as fundraising events, such as the recent Band Night, the 12th Man also raise money by other means. Supporters can visit websites such as Amazon, through the 12th Man website, with the team receiving a fee for referring the customers.
Imps supporter Billy Jarish also managed to raise over £300 by cycling to City’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match in Rotherham earlier in the season.
The team have recruited their newest member in Gary Hutchinson, a training advisor in the construction industry – or, as Lincoln fans may know him, City mascot ‘Poacher the Imp’.
Hutchinson says: “I’ve been an Imps fan for over 24 years now and I’ve been performing the role of ‘Poacher the Imp’ for over 12 years.
“The ideas process [at 12th Man] is ongoing and the work done before I joined has been superb.
“All ideas and input are welcome from all corners.”
If any Lincoln fans wish to join the 12th Man, they are encouraged to contact the team through the website, or alternatively speak to one of the team on match day at Sincil Bank.
With the 12th man an ever-growing outfit, maybe it won’t be too long until they raise enough money to purchase the sponsorship of the Lincoln home shirt.
City fans, get rummaging behind your sofas.
For more information on the 12th Man, visit www.the12thman.blogspot.com.Tweet