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Welcome to 2020

Yes, an update. And cherish this one for now…

As your editor is off Stateside (yes, again) from tomorrow for a fortnight, and has just come off the back of a somewhat busy Xmas/NY work schedule, it feels that there’s a lot of things to catch up with this morning.

Firstly – it may be 2020 but the only game we’ve had this decade had a reassuringly vintage vibe.

That we drew against Southend isn’t any surprise, really. Nor is our now traditional conceding a goal in injury time. And, as per usual, our inability to get a second goal once again killed us.

Results wise, I suppose the holiday period was mixed – if you said beforehand that we’d lose at Brizzle Rovers, draw against Oxford and beat Southend, you would have been OK with that.

That would have been four points in three games, which is mid-table form and is what we got anyway.

But it doesn’t feel like that. We’re still down the wrong end of the table, failed to put enough daylight between us and the drop zone, and we’re still hoping that this turns out to be a good transfer window.

Which hasn’t got going yet, and probably won’t until before we play t’Stanley away.

Thankfully Forss is (still) with us right now, as Brentford didn’t pick him for their FA Cup game against Stoke, but all the while he’s still got to sit down with them and discuss plans for this season, we can’t assume anything.

One player who has gone is Michael Folivi. And with it the dwindling hope of the “Follow You Follow Me” song by Genesis getting sung for him.

While he did a job for us in 18/19, he was practically a waste of a squad number this time round.

Not one of Walter’s best decisions this close season, football related ones anyway, although one wonders how much his hands were tied transfer wise.

I don’t know who else is likely to depart (Trott now seems to have made the goalie jersey his own), but it’s now much more important who we’ll get in.

EDIT: True to form, as soon as I updated this Delaney is going back to Rochdale. Interesting that we’re saying GH is looking for another defender and striker.

That said, those two aside don’t be entirely shocked to find out that we hardly get anyone in. Our form since Hodger took over hasn’t been bad, and while we’re certainly not a good side at all – it is more than capable of staying up.

If our Flying Finn remains in AFCW colours, that might be all the movement we’ll make.

Yes, we do need another striker, and if we get one it will be another Folivi type. Anyone with experience will come at a (literal) price, and for that reason alone I doubt we’ll get in a battle hardened midfielder/defender.

That said, if another Danny Bulman figure falls into our lap I wouldn’t say no. Hell, let’s have the original one back in our shirt again – he must be about 50 now and still outsprinting cheetahs.

We’ve got Pompey to look forward to this weekend, although I can’t say I’m upset we had the weekend just gone off. We needed the break, as a few said after Southend that we were starting to run on empty.

We’ve got the 25th off as well, because of Oxford’s exploits in the FA Cup, so it looks like the usual backlog in February. That said, last year we did have Walsall and the 4-3 at Spotland…

Anyway, things will get going again now the holiday period is over. On the field, we know where we need to strengthen, even if we don’t manage to achieve it.

Off the field, we’ll finally get some clarity on a few things too.

And I’m not going to make some glib follow-up like “maybe”, because the time for actual decisions that will actively decide our short-and-medium term future is upon us.

We still don’t know who the potential investors are. And given that the club’s attitude to telling anyone anything borders on contempt at times, that’s no surprise.

Should they get named within the next week or two, I think there will be a lot of people willing to listen. People have been celebrating/enduring Xmas so they won’t have been paying much attention.

If not, and the cloak of secrecy remains, then forget it happening this time around. For obvious reasons, people will be suspicious of anything that isn’t transparent, and the club’s attitude towards comms adds to that.

So, what are the alternatives? The proposed bond is likely to launch when I’m gone, although the usual warning about pledges not equaling guaranteed money applies.

Its success will depend on what interest rate is offered, and what investment period. As a guide, Surrey cricket recently did a bond at 5 years with a 4.5% rate (with a minimum of £2000).

We won’t be in that position, but something like a five year bond at 2% might attract a few.

The important thing here though is that the more you raise through a bond, the more you have to pay back.

If it turns out to be something like ten years at 1% (or less) then it becomes a glorified donation. And it will probably underwhelm, because you’re not going to attract the financially savvy, of which we have a fair amount in our fanbase.

Why? Because they know a poor deal when they see it. Otherwise, you might just as well do another Seedrs** type venture and done with it. Hell, maybe instead of sponsoring a urinal you can pay to have one installed in the first place.

** – a thought that just occurred to me. Given that paying £100k+ to Seedrs got you a vice presidents role, would those who put the bulk of the £2.3m in necessarily pull their money out? A VP position might be an important role within the next five years…

Remember – a bond is not a donation. That’s the point of investing in them to begin with. It might help ensure NPL gets completed but it’s a debt and it has to be repaid.

While I don’t doubt some will defer payment, most won’t – especially if you’re pitching to non-AFCW fans looking to do something with a few grand.

We’ve yet to find out what other funding options are available, but now is the time we have to supply proper answers. Sweeping things under the carpet may be the default setting at AFCW, but it’s partly why we’re in this mess to begin with.

Everything we do from now on will come at a cost that has to be repaid later. External investment? Depends on what the tradeoffs are. Bonds? See above. Loans? Good luck avoiding settling those when you’re short on money.

Praying for somebody to win the lottery and expect them to plough the money in without any question? I have a unicorn to sell you if you believe that.

It’s a bit like those who are hoping John Green slings a big wedge in. I don’t know how much he pays for the ex-Nongshim but I doubt it’s too much.

He would (or should) have a financial advisor or two, who will tell him what a bad idea putting in £8m of his money will be without taking more control of the club.

Something else I’ve missed? Probably. But January 2020 is now upon us, and we have to start making very important decisions.

And by the time I get back on the 23rd, I expect to still have a club to support…