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Mads Cow Disease

Yes, I know Mr Sorensen coming is very old news, but I’ve waited a fortnight to use that headline…

So, SW19 returns after over two weeks break (I thoroughly recommend a -12F windchill to anyone, especially if you want to know what it’s like to not feel your face), and one senses we’re slightly further forward with a few things. On the field, and perhaps off it too.

Not too much, I grant you, but enough to comment on.

Football wise, we had another weekend off yesterday, which didn’t turn out so bad results wise. We’ve got a game in hand, we’re five points off the drop, and winning against Posh last weekend was very welcome indeed.

Especially after losing Forss. Your editor got to see the iFollow video of the Pompey game, and Brentford’s not-very-flying Finn suffered one of those injuries that could put him out for a while.

He had an operation on Thursday, so it clearly was more than a tweak.

At least it answered the whole will-he-stay-or-go question, and leaves us scrabbling around for a new striker with not many days to go. Us and so many other clubs, unfortunately.

It’s the first real test of GH’s tenure, although the other Bees signing we made (and centre of the Old Jokes Home headline above) has already shown promise.

It does help matters when Piggy is starting to find the net again. Form is temporary, and all that, although I can’t imagine anyone coming in for a player of ours – especially up front.

Maybe the local glue factory for Appiah? I notice he’s back in the squad again, which is good of him. How long will he stay fit again this time – three weeks?

One gets the feeling we’ll muddle through the rest of this season with him and the rest of the squad that is at least able to get results when it needs to.

The need for a clearout and the removal of some players – one in particular – is an important one, and we all can’t wait until the summer for that, but didn’t we say this last year as well…?

I’m not holding out too much hope for Burton on Tuesday, to be honest, although we’re over-relying on our home form as it is. We really are piles of toilet away from home.

I don’t know whether we’ll stay up this time around, we pretty much defied gravity in 18/19, but we’re in a better position today than we were just twelve months ago…

Something that one could suggest isn’t the case off the field.

While I was gone, the Plough Lane Bond launched, and within a week it’s got over a million. Which if you assume that 200 or so have put in that wedge already calculates to roughly £5000 per person.

I expect it to reach £2m, as more potential subscribers are able to move their money about and see how much they’re prepared to risk.

Above that figure though? I don’t know, and like Seedrs one suspects we’re relying on the big hitters to come in and take advantage of what’s on offer too.

As that particular fundraiser suggested, most AFCW fans aren’t able/willing to put in four figure sums. I can’t imagine too many down the younger end of the demographic scale having that kind of money.

Maybe some more will be tempted because of the 4% over 5 years (anyone pledging anything different is effectively donating their money), but don’t be entirely surprised to see the figure slowing down within the next week or so.

There are definitely those who put their money into the first fundraiser and who would move that money out into this latest one if they could. Not so much robbing Peter to pay Paul, but smashing Peter’s head with a baseball bat and stealing his car for good measure.

Other than that, and without knowing every single fans’ financial situation or motivation, this venture will likely rely on non-AFCW fans picking up the tab.

There’s going to be a PR push, though one suspects not as widespread as the Seedrs ad campaign was. There will be the usual leaflet drops and word-of-mouth stuff, although a feature in somewhere like This Is Money may help it.

Though I note the irony in relying on external investors to put money into a bond that is designed to repel said investors.

If you’re a savvy saver, you might be tempted by the 4% at 5 years. At the same time, your money is at risk, and it may only appeal to those who can afford to write off £5k if the worst happened.

And how good is it anyway? True, you can get 2.1% with Gateway Bank for five years, but that money is FSCS guaranteed and therefore risk free.

I have to admit that I know little of what you can get on the market if you’re prepared to risk £5k or so, but there are companies out there who look around for you (while researching this bit, one company claimed to know of an 8% bond).

Given that you won’t see your money for five years either, it might not be as tempting to anyone who a) is non-AFCW affiliated or sympathetic, and/or b) has other options if they’re prepared to risk capital.

Regardless of how much is ultimately raised, all this is doing is kicking the can down the road anyway. Some may defer payment when it matures, but most won’t. Especially those going for the 4%/5 year option.

At the risk of making the most obvious statement in some while, the more we raise through the PLB the more we have to pay back.

I’m not sure how close we’ll get to £5m, but even if we do there’s still the little matter of not only borrowing £6m, but servicing it without crippling AFCW’s ability to function.

At time of writing, there’s no news on a loan, and one does question if there is one genuinely in the pipeline. Watch the fur fly if we don’t get one after all.

If we sign one up, then it takes priority. Even the lowest we need to borrow forces us to look at where the money comes from to service it, especially if what’s generated from NPL has to fund the infrastructure this club doesn’t have but will need.

The upshot is that there’s interesting times ahead, and for that we’ll need stability.

I won’t get into political wranglings and posturing, but this is the worst possible time to start rocking the AFCW boat – especially when we still haven’t fully sorted out funding.

Changing personnel right now is merely changing horses mid-stream – and doing so because you don’t like the way they neigh when you’re driving them into strong currents, and you won’t consider a few alternative routes.

The club needs a big revamp, we all agree, but the time to do that was either two years ago or after we’ve kicked the first ball at NPL.

Those who want certain individuals hung by a noose in the middle of Durnsford Road off the scene will likely get their wish anyway if they’re just a bit more patient. I can’t imagine anyone currently on the front line wanting to continue much beyond the first NPL game as it is.

Yes, trust between various boards and some fans is low, though IMO a fair bit of that is down to unrealistic expectations by the latter. The club is (very) poor with comms in some regards, but at the same time – it doesn’t need to tell you a lot of things.

Our off-field priority now is to get NPL done, and recriminations can wait.

Remember – crunch time is coming, and we don’t have a lot of time before Buckingham finally want the contract signed. That’s slightly over a month away, and that will come around quite quickly.

Or to put it another way – the clock is ticking ever louder…