Godot has arrived

Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally.

FINALLY.

I’m sure like the vast majority of AFCW fans, I found the silence over the s106 – especially when it was getting to October – was quite disconcerting. It had been, what, close to two years since the original decision at Crown House?

Rumours that there were problems never seemed to go away, especially as the club wasn’t saying anything bar the odd “it’s being read by the lawyers”. Which all sounded a bit of a cop-out in the absence of any other news.

Today, our almost inhumane level of patience became worth it.

I used the “Godot” reference for the “Waiting For Godot” thing that even the most non-literary of us (ie your editor) knows is about somebody often talked about, but who never arrives. Well, if he was an AFCW fan he would be there this morning apologising for being late and getting the first beer in.

And he’ll probably be complaining later on about not being able to use the CRM for the Spurz tickets 😉

But today is not a day for that. Today is the biggest step since 1991, perhaps even bigger than the original decision on 10/12/15, because all bar one hurdle planning wise has been vaulted over, and what we’ve missed since 1991 is in sight.

That one potential upset is the judicial review, and we’ll get that out of the way now. Basically put, a JR is something to do with a “point of law“, as in – was it all done above board and legally?

It’s the ultimate put-up-or-shut-up to anyone against NPL and who felt they were hard done by. There’s a six week period from now on (presumably not including Xmas) where it can be applied for, and even that isn’t simple.

Firstly, anyone who wants to try it can’t run straight to a judge. They have to first go through a pre-action protocol, meaning they have to write to us/Galliard/LBM first with solid grounds for taking it further.

They then have to give “us” 14 days (or whatever it is allowing for Xmas) to reply to it. And reading around various websites about it, those lawyers who specialise in JR suggest anyone doing a claim had better be 100% convincing.

Why? Mainly, they’d be liable for losing a JR case and they would have to pay “us” shitloads of money if it got that far. I have to admit, if it wasn’t going to delay us yet further, a part of me would love somebody to try it on.

Imagine an unholy alliance of Taggart, the other doggers, the NIMBYs and the banger racers coming together, lose in the court and have to pay us a five or even six figure sum? I sure as hell don’t want yet another delay, but in that case it would be worth it.

Courts generally don’t like frivolous (or to use the legal term, vexatious) attempts at litigation, which unless we’ve made a fuck-up of Ryan Clarke proportions seems pretty unlikely.

I don’t doubt that somebody will try and slam a PAP on us before the Pompey game (my money is on the banger racers – they have the right level of malicious intent and outright stupidity to do it), which is why I expect this whole thing has taken two years.

After all, if you can cover every eventuality, writing the 2017 equivalent of Arkell v. Pressdram becomes just a bit easier…

Anyway, that’s the only (slight) negative out of the way. When the call came out today that there was a new signing at 11am, for once it wasn’t going to be a new u17 from Burnley. Admittedly it did come out of the blue a bit, especially as there hadn’t been any ITK types beforehand.

True, there were the Chinese whispers from the Oldham game a couple of weeks back, which I think might have been the lawyers agreeing it but the relevant parties not actually signing them until today.

But 11am came, and it was a good time for all AFCW fans.

When I was forced to go onto Facebook to look at the windswept photocall at the dog track**, it started to become a bit real. All local news programmes have been shoved on my Sky planner, a trip to get today’s Evening Standard is planned, and we even made the breaking news of SSN.

** – that’s a point – when do we stop calling it the dog track and start calling it NPL? When the bulldozers finally level the shit-tip?

I have to admit, I spent a little bit of time staring at the above mockup that I haven’t seen before. If it does end up looking like that, and it’s the “latest impression” according to the OS, that’s going to be a bit decent.

A modern day Loftus Road, if you will. One of your editor’s favourite grounds even now.

For the first year or two, games at NPL will be special. But imagine the first big game under lights there, as the picture above shows. Imagine if we’d drawn Spurz in the FAC there, instead of Wembley.

Hell, imagine playing Franchise there for the first time, at night, and us winning? If they hated KM in March, they wouldn’t know what hit them in Wimbledon in the future.

And yes, I have noticed the subtlety of having three players in midfield all playing the same way, letting the ball go to an opposition player, and them not moving…

I’m sure you’re now already planning where you’re going to sit, how you’re going to get there, which boozers will be open nearby, that kind of thing. It is finally going to start sinking in for the rest of this year, and this season too, especially when the JR period expires.

At the time of writing, the actual s106 documents haven’t been uploaded anywhere. When they are, SW19 will be going through them and it will make good Xmas reading. For now, the ESS has given us some further information that we might not have known.

£25m sounds a lot, although £14m from that is from Galliard. I thought we were getting more than £2m from Chelski for KM, to be honest. Still, naming rights and a loan is pretty standard fayre these days, the latter can be restructured so that it doesn’t end up crippling us.

Capacity appears to be set at 11k, which is more than enough for us for the next decade or so. The more we can afford to put in the better, it will save us retrofitting it later.

As for the potential of a Barcelona friendly? It will be nice, though I’d be surprised if Chelski didn’t have one as well. Maybe Liverpool as well, for old times sake? Though I’d like it to be Palace, to make up for the last ever competitive fixture at PL.

That’s assuming it will be open in time – it seems like we’re being prepped for it not to open at the start of 2019/20. That said, you can get stadia up quite quickly, especially if there’s just one permanent stand to construct, taking practical completion into account.

I guess demolition and anything unforseen will take the time up, although your editor has a chainsaw, a couple of big hammers and a face mask for H&S in my garage, if anyone wants me to help out tomorrow.

I’ll be absent Friday, Saturday and Sunday though, so you’ll need to bring petrol and a couple of matches.

Personally, the sooner we can move home the better. I really don’t care if it’s January 2020, because that final season at KM will be unbearable if we know there’s a lovely new ground waiting for us.

I’m sure we can put up with the logistic issues. Charlton moved from Upton Park to the Valley mid-season, and they coped OK. Issue half-year season tickets if need be. Even consider a groundshare for that half-a-campaign, I’ll cope and I’m sure most of you will too.

The payoff will be worth it.

There’s more to write. Much more, at that. But that’s for the upcoming weeks and months. And if NPL takes another six months, or even a year longer, then so be it.

After all, we’ve only had to wait 26 years to get to this stage…