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SW19 is taking a summer break…

… not that you’ll be able to tell the difference, given recent events.

Yep, your editor is off to the US tomorrow, and won’t be back until the 26th June. I’m also spending three days in Bogota during that time, which is NOT funding the rest of my trip.

No doubt I’ll miss all the fun of the new transfers coming in. I’ll definitely miss the fixtures being announced, which means the predictions that never come close to being correct.

This time, I’m going for the following: first game will be Donny at home. First away will be Tranmere. We’ll get Southend at home on Boxing Day and Oxford away around NYD. Last game of the season will be Sunderland at home. Franchise at KM will be on the 4th October (Friday), while we’ll be disinfecting ourselves at the Frenzydome on 22nd March.

Oh, and if you do the game nearest to your birthday like your editor does, I’ll get to follow Brizzle Rovers away from afar…

So, with none of those guaranteed to happen, and with absolutely bugger all transfer news, we do have a couple more PSFs to get excited about.

Home to Palace about four days before the new season starts won’t be a bad one, and hopefully we’ll be fielding something close to the first XI as possible.

That said, playing Hampton on the previous Saturday does raise some eyebrows, unless we’ll be going for a split-squad thing.

Or maybe we won’t, and we’ll be aiming to win this about 10-0 with Appiah netting a hat-trick? On second thought, it’s the Beavers, and we never beat them…

Still, it’s attention off the pitch right now, and that’s a reference to the NPL crowdfunding initiative.

I wasn’t at KM on Monday, as I simply ran out of time and energy, so I’m sourcing a lot of this from what people said elsewhere. DYOR and all that.

It sounds like we need to find £13m, of which some if not most of it will be a bank loan. The rest will be this crowdfunding approach, which if I’m being honest I’m a bit dubious about.

Well, I would be if I thought it’s aimed at the ordinary fan putting a tenner in.

While I openly question the ability (or willingness) these days of supporters being able to raise even £100k, let alone seven-figure sums, one suspects this is the first formal “external investment” approach.

One only has to look at the blurb in the pre-registration page. “We’re also considering how we can pay out dividends directly tied to the Club’s future success, such as promotion to the Championship and the Premier League” suggests how this is going to be pitched.

That might raise the eyebrows of some DT members, as will “…you can become a part-owner of AFC Wimbledon“.

But then, it’s needs-must these days. We’re going home, so some sacrifices will need to be made. And to be fair, most fans will accept those trade-offs.

The next question may now be, if we don’t get the crowd funding – then what? Chances are, it will mean a bigger bank loan to cover the costs, and I suspect that’s the backup plan.

That does come with its own issues, such as interest and whatnot, but you can get to restructure that if need be.

But I get the feeling this crowdfunding scheme is there for a reason, and it’s because we’re sure there’s a few moneyed types already lined up.

After all, why go through this process if we could “only” get a bank loan to cover the whole thing to begin with?

I don’t know what’s in it for anyone with deep pockets, but it’s likely to be much more than just a warm feeling and a thank-you card.

We have plenty of accountants and other financial types at the club, so they’ll know what the tax/accountancy permutations are with crowdfunding.

Suffice to say, there has to be some – there wouldn’t be any large scale fundraising anywhere if there wasn’t.

A number of our fans work in the financial sector, often at some quite high levels, so keep an eye out on what’s going to be offered in return. It might tell you who’s interested…

Elsewhere, it sounds like there’s four months worth of groundworks and foundations to come. As my old man used to say though (he was a fire protection engineer who knew a fair bit about construction), half of any project is the stuff you don’t see.

Does this mean that NPL won’t be open for the start of 20/21? Possibly, if not probably, and whatever gets planned seemingly ends up getting delayed twice as long as originally targeted.

That said, you can get three of the four stands up relatively quickly, so fourteen months isn’t out of the question after all.

And I think the idea is to move in ASAP, and be unconcerned if some of it remains unfinished. In fact, I would bet that we have the capacity of seats, enough executive boxes to sell and little else completed by then.

There’s a term called “practical completion” and we’re likely about to find out what that means.

Any delays are now a case of months, not years. If half the main stand isn’t ready for use by the time we kick the first ball – well, I’ll just be glad we’re kicking that pigs bladder in our own gaff to begin with…

Anyway, NPL is to be looked forward to. And this might be a good time to mention that SW19’s ARMY turns twenty years old on the 11th June.

I have to be honest, I totally forgot about that until about a week after we stayed in L1 (and yes, that still feels good to write that, even now).

So no sordid parties. The only white powder I’m bringing back from Colombia is the non-dairy creamer nabbed from my hotel.

There may be one or two instances of self-onanism coming, but if you can’t do that on an anniversary – when can you?

You can see how much things have changed since I wrote about SW19’s tenth birthday, just a mere decade ago. Though these days, I don’t like reading what I wrote back then.

But NPL will complete the circle for a place like this, as much as anything else.

The fact I called it after a lyric from the (criminally under-rated) Dons Song was never a coincidence, and the day I get to write the first match report back home can’t come quick enough.

And while I’ve considered knocking this place on the head after that first full season back at NPL, now I’m not so sure I will.

Why? Well, firstly I’ve now managed to balance doing this place well enough with external factors (ie work) now, and if I’m being honest – I no longer have to force myself to find different ways of examining the same old shit week in, week out.

Thank Satan that Walter is at the wheel these days.

But secondly, there’s a realisation that places like SW19 are a dying breed. These days, it’s podcasts, and video blogs, and in truth people just don’t want to read any more**.

** – you do get a few blogs still about, but they’re nowadays more of the tedious “modern football” types, lusting over tactics and/or pretending the rest of the country gives a shit about Braintree or Clapton.

Social media has done for a lot of that, plus the inconvenient truth that doing these can be time consuming and hard work.

That’s something many behind these podcast/vlogs end up discovering, which is why so many of them eventually run out of steam.

Thankfully, while SW19 is many things, I’ve always been glad this place is, and will always remain independent. I’ve been lucky in being able to avoid taking adverts, or having to go down the begging route for funds.

I’ve been offered corporate dinero once or twice, but I don’t want to start writing “SW19 in association with DodgyBet” and I doubt if you would too. Though imagine the match reports if I did – Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) An SW19 reader got 22/1 through DodgyBet on Appiah lasting more than twenty minutes without getting injured.

I might have missed a trick there. On the flip side, I’d have an ex-sponsor very quickly.

But I think that the whole being “independent” thing is the most important reason why SW19 has lasted as long as it has.

I’ve never wanted to be “part of the club”, especially in the AFCW era, because having a close(r) relationship with it has the very real potential to backfire.

That’s what I think happened with the 9 Years podcast people last season.

I don’t know the ins and outs of what went on, and I’ve no idea what the status of their current working relationship with AFCW is, but it built a lot of its profile on getting interviews with ex/current players.

Of course, it went all-in with the DT election hustings, which practically pushed it into quasi-official status. Which is fine, they did well out of it and I suspect that’s what they’d still rather be.

But it’s a very fine line between still (legally) saying what you want and having to be compromised to still get access.

From what I can gather (and I’ll be honest, I’ve never once listened to it), there was a comment made about a now ex-player in unflattering terms.

You can say such things if you’re not relying on said player’s employers co-operating with you, and giving you a much higher profile in return. But if you are…

It’s not just AFCW where this becomes a problem – one Sunderland podcast features owner Stewart Donald on it, and is rather proud that they get to interview him.

When they found themselves in our division again next season, it got some brickbats aimed at it for being too “close”. The result? They started blocking their own fans on social media, apparently.

Being independent is good, and that just reminds me why.

As SW19 goes into its 21st year of publication, a warning – it won’t be around in another 21 years, and not for another ten either.

But ironically it’s now becoming more like it was back in the WFC days, where you didn’t have to tread on eggshells so much.

AFCW itself has grown a thicker skin, even if it’s still a bit too thin for its own good. Professional football has changed the club, it’s made it more cynical and (slightly) less naive.

Especially the last two years, although what was written on here and elsewhere was milder than many other fans would have said.

So, this place as much as anyone else is looking forward to next season and beyond. Off the pitch, and on it as well. Somehow, I would have killed for that at various points within the last two decades…