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Money, Money, Money

Looks like we’ve got ourselves a little bit of a financial windfall. Along with the rest of the Conference, that is…

I have to admit, the cynical side of me thinks this is a bit of a sop to us non-league lowlifes. When you look at the alleged wages that somebody like Man Citeh are paying for example (seemingly with the Prem’s blessing), and it’s a relatively token figure.

There’s also the issue that in giving this money out, it just exacerbates the problem that the Conf still hasn’t managed to keep its clubs in line over the rampant living-beyond-means that certain other clubs are engaging in. Can you imagine certain boardrooms this morning? They’ll be phone Conference HQ wondering where their money is already, as they have just one more “vital” signing to make….

Enough sneering. Roughly speaking we’ll get about £30k to £40k to play with, which certainly isn’t to be sniffed at. Granted, it means that we still wouldn’t be able to pay Nathan Elder’s entire wages for a year, but it’s something I hope we wouldn’t do anyway. That said, I wonder if this means an emergency re-drawing up of TB’s budget plans? We are effectively right on the limit when it comes to what we planned to spend, and perhaps this news will make a difference to whether we keep on another triallist or let them go?

I didn’t go to Maidenhead on Tuesday, but from what I hear, the remaining triallists didn’t do their cause any harm. If we’re dealing with a small squad, I would rather us spend this new windfall on adding just one more (good quality) player than not. We sure as hell will need that extra body, especially when you consider that we lost two players against Charlton to injury.

We’ll find out more tonight about our pre-season progress, but so far nobody has had too many complaints. A point made earlier this week was a telling one – at the end of last season, we couldn’t even have bought a win against Maidenhead, let alone in a PSF. The early signs suggest that the squad is getting along pretty well and is looking quite professionally minded.

No, I’m not trying to turn this into another “Going Full Time Was The Best Thing We Ever Did And Anyone Who Disagrees Should Fuck Off Back To Turdeyland With The Rest Of The Non League Family” rant. Because I don’t need to 😉 This is different to previous pre-season campaigns in the AFCW, in fact they look more like the WFC ones. I’m quite looking forward to tonight because I want to see how we do against a Championship side.

By that, I don’t mean in a “ooh look, we’ve got a big club with big following” manner. I mean that more in an on-field sense. I expect we’ll lose 3-0 tonight, but at the same time I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if we got a more positive result. It seems that people are believing in the team again, although that wasn’t difficult following last season’s debacle.

Mentally, the first signs are there that when we go to Grimsby and Luton, we won’t be pinching ourselves this time. Again, that’s the professional mindset in action. Playing Wall tonight is a big deal but it’s also not a big deal, if that makes sense. I hope we get another decent crowd, but at the same time I don’t want it to be 4-1 again…

Back to the Prem’s money. The other bit that stands out is the £800k towards “club development”, whatever that means. I hope the Conf are sensible with this, and limit it to an equal amount for every club. Because you just know that Steve Evans will be on the blower PDQ and announce his poverty-stricken outfit face imminent collapse unless they are given £799,999 immediately.

We should get that money and immediately put it into developing our youth and reserve teams. We’ll sure as hell be relying on that in the coming years to come. I wouldn’t put it into KM, unless it was going to directly affect our being in the Conference. Some could argue that we should use it to pay off the Barclays Loanâ„¢, which is a point of view I would have sympathy with.

That said, I think our aim is to use the money to put in infrastructure to make ourselves more self-sufficient. Proving you don’t let the Barclays loan spiral out of control, servicing it without making it your major priority isn’t going to strangle us. Get the infrastructure right, and paying off the loan will take care of itself. Along with future funding issues…

Remember, AFC Wimbledon is a football club. Even now people forget that.

One final thing, and it’s related. There’s been a few more complaints than usual about the cost of catering at KM now. I know at least two people who have said they will stop (or at least reduce) their intake of chips and coffee at the ground. £1-30 for a cup of (and I quote, “horrible”) coffee is a piss take, especially as you can get one at Fat Boys before the game for signficantly less. Chips are apparently £2 – I know the club needs the money it can get, but that’s just piss taking. And I believe the food isn’t that good either.

It’s also commercial suicide. Yes, we all want to make sure we do well, but as somebody once wrote, patriotism starts in our hearts and finishes in our wallets. There has always been sightings of fans quickly nipping to the chippy at half time, and there’s always a decent queue before the game. Think of the amount of revenue the club is dipping out on, simply because its own customers are voting with their feet. And now at least two people I know are seriously considering bringing their own flasks simply to save the £1-30. And they are people who have regularly purchased food and drink within the ground to give the club a few more quid.

If everyone reading this knows at least one person doing the same, the club will dip out on £6 per game 😉 In all seriousness, I think whoever is responsible for the pricing of catering has messed this one up. Some may wish this not to be the case (as the lecturing, hectoring bit of comment I read in the programme a few years ago on this subject testifies), but AFCW fans are no more bound to support the club than any other set of supporters.

Hungry before the game? Why would you wait to get into the ground when there’s a chippy nearby? And at lower cost, too. Catering at sports venues generally is a rip-off frenzy at the best of times, so I’m not just singling out the club. Those who have been to the Emirates will know of the £4 pies, when a turn left out of Arsenal station brings you to a pre-match chippy meal for significantly better value.

Indeed, this week I was at Lord’s for Pakistan against Australia. £7 for a curry meal was the best value, when you consider it was £8 for a small pizza, £5 for a burger, £2 for a cup of tea etc. This is why people bring in their own food/alcohol. True, we can’t do the latter, but how many people will now be searching around for local pubs for a pre-match pint in future?

Yes, the money is always useful, and I accept that prices will inevitably rise, but we have our tipping point as much as any other set of supporters. We are not, nor should we ever be, an unlimited supply of money, even if it is “our” club.

Apathy kills, but over-zealousness does as much harm.