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Page last updated at 07:45 GMT, Wednesday, 18 May 2011 08:45 UK

Imps chairman Bob Dorrian counts the cost of relegation

Bob Dorrian
Dorrian was vice-chairman to Steff Wright before replacing him in June 2010

By James Lobley
BBC Lincolnshire

When Bob Dorrian became chairman of Lincoln City in June 2010, he anticipated a steady season in League Two with a concerted push for promotion the following year.

But almost 12 months on from his appointment, the Imps find themselves out of the Football League for the first time in almost a quarter of a century after a dreadful run at the end of the campaign.

"I felt we were going to consolidate our position and then move forward under Steve Tilson next season," Dorrian told BBC Lincolnshire.

"I never really saw this coming. To me it seems almost freakish that we had so many opportunities to reach safety but we didn't take them."

But relegated they were - and for Dorrian it was a bitter pill to swallow.

"First and foremost I'm a lifelong Imps fan, but I'm the chairman so the buck stops with me.

"I shall always be known as the chairman who took Lincoln City down into non-league in his first season in charge, and that for me is an awful thing to have to come to terms with."

However he says quitting in the wake of relegation was never an option.

I think we have to be realistic about the strength of the Blue Square Bet Premier. It's not like the Conference was in 1987

Lincoln City chairman Bob Dorrian

"It never entered my head at all," he insisted. "What I want to do now is to get the club to regroup and go forward from next season."

The harsh reality of life in non-league, though, will be a vastly reduced budget at Sincil Bank which has forced the club's board to take a long hard look at ways to cut expenditure.

"We've lost our solidarity payment from the Premier League, we've lost our TV money from the Football League and our youth department budget has lost half of its funding," said Dorrian.

"In real terms we are looking at £500,000. We have to look at every area and decide if we can do without it or run it at a reduced level.

"It affects the staff, the youth department, the training ground, the pro budget, the management. Everything is going to come under the closest of scrutiny."

And the Imps chairman says two of the club's cornerstones, the football in the community and youth departments, face potentially contrasting fates.

"Football in the community will carry on because it's mainly funded by outside bodies. But the youth department swallows up a lot of money and it's an area we have to give some very detailed attention to."

Steve Tilson
Steve Tilson succeeded Chris Sutton as Lincoln manager in October 2010

Dorrian is adamant that manager Steve Tilson's playing budget will be affected as little as possible by the estimated £500,000 shortfall, but concedes that other clubs in the division will have more financial clout when it comes to player recruitment.

"I think we have to be realistic about the strength of the Blue Square Bet Premier. It's not like the Conference was in 1987.

"There are clubs in there with very big budgets spending more than they can afford, reaching out for the holy grail of the Football League. While there are some managing on low budgets, there are a number whose budgets are probably higher than many in League Two."

But Dorrian's underlying disappointment of dropping out of the Football League is slowly beginning to fade, to be replaced by a mood of acceptance and optimism.

"We've got to wake up to the realisation that we are now a non-league football club and we have to behave like one," he said.

"We've got to cut out lots of expense that as a league club we took for granted. We've got to recognise where we are, come to terms with it quickly and start making some far-reaching decisions regarding the future of the club.

"The reality is that we know where we are now, and we know what we've got to do.

"We are determined to get out of the Conference at the first go. That's not to say we will, but I can assure everyone that we are going to give it a real go."

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