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Loan Wolf

Sorry about the headline, but some bastard nicked my original plan of “Loan Ranger”.

So…… finally….

As close season trundles by, the one remaining big hurdle** for NPL has been vaulted over – we’ve persuaded somebody to hand us some money.

** – financially wise, that is. There’s always the possibility, if not strong probability of some black swan event scuppering things up more.

It’s highly likely we’ll get one or more of the following – a fire/terrorist bomb/construction catastrophe/plane crash on the structure/swarm of locust/outbreak of scrotal lice/strongly worded letter from the WPRA…

This has always been the one lingering issue that has overshadowed the project. True, the angst got tempered with the PLB/Seedrs, but that’s it’s finally been signed is that last niggle removed.

That’s the trouble with awaiting financial loans – until your signature is on the dotted line, you’re basically at the whim of those lending it.

But we’ve got the money. Joe Palmer called it “immense pleasure”, though I bet it’s equally immense relief.

While building our new place wasn’t going to be an issue once the PLB succeeded, we still needed funds to do the fitting out of things like paintjobs, IT systems etc.

Life back home would look a bit shit if the office had one desk with an Amstrad 8256 on it.

Anyway, it’s a bridging loan of £4m off some company called MSP Capital, which we don’t have to take all of, though I expect we’ll end up doing so anyway.

It’s an eighteen-month loan too, which gives us a chance to qualify for a more user-friendly “proper” arrangement like a commercial mortgage or something.

Also, I was very amused by this bit on the OS:

I must stress the loan is solely for stadium work. Money will only be released against invoices clearly relevant to the construction project. Under no circumstances can any funds be transferred to other areas – like, for example, the playing budget.

A dig at the previous regime? Not that they wouldn’t deserve it if it was.

Part of the reason we got into the state we did was trying to prop up Ardley (was it true that he was looking to quit if he didn’t get the funds?), and it ended up tarnishing a couple of legacies.

It also took more than a few out of their utopian view on how money talks and bullshit walks. which is always a good thing.

The way we run things today isn’t perfect, but at least we now look a bit more “professional”. It certainly wasn’t the case back then…

There’s a few unanswered questions though, that may or may not ever get a response. Like whether it’s payable monthly, or in January 2022 (give or take).

That’s an unknown right now, as is how much we’ll be paying in interest. I doubt it’s low, these sort of loans rarely are.

Which probably explains why the club still wants to get as much in from elsewhere as possible.

The PLB hovered around £5.4m before the Rona struck, and chances are it isn’t going to get significantly higher.

And yes, taking out something like this is a risk. Anything of this nature is going to be so, especially if we’re not careful.

The £11m shortfall last November was the biggest financial challenge in the AFCW era, and that was a shock to many a system.

For this though, we know that there’s a payment needed by January 2022. Our ability to pay that off should be easier with more revenue streams available to us.

But reading around since the news broke yesterday, a couple of our fans do need to know this won’t come cheap.

This is not a donation, nor is it people taking out bonds with the expectancy they’ll be rolling them over when the time comes.

Whatever we borrow, we have to pay back. With interest and other fees, too.

Even if we take out £2m, that’s more than our current playing budget** and needs to be serviced.

** – other things that cost more than our current playing budget : a Waitrose lasagne.

It’s been said on SW19 before – while the first NPL season will be a highly emotional and momentous one, crowds or not, the second season is when real life intrudes.

A 2021/22 season that as it now turns out, will require a big payment to a third party.

It’s no different to any individual taking out a personal loan or a mortgage, although unless you’re totally irresponsible it makes you wise up over your finances.

Or to put that another way – I don’t find it a coincidence that Nick Robertson’s investment approval was tacked on down the bottom…

Still, that can wait until we need to deal with it. We’re entitled to enjoy returning back home without worrying about anything for now.

It’s a shame CV19 has tempered that glorious day back home, because under normal circumstances we would be counting down the days right now.

It’s still on course for October 25th – your editor’s 45th birthday, thanks for asking, though with luck I’ll be in Athens that day – and by that stage the idea is for some crowds to return.

We still don’t know when League One will restart. The vote for it has been pushed back to the 24th of this month, and no doubt we still won’t know by the time October comes around.

But September 12th has been mentioned, so all being well that would give us seven weekends before we return home.

That does mean we’ve got at least three weekends where we’ve got to have designated “home” games.

We could play all our fixtures away for a month, but I can’t see the EFL being happy with us doing that for two.

They’ll definitely be miffed if NPL gets a further delay, so the need for a home venue in the meantime remains important.

Games still behind closed doors would make things easier for us, because that way we wouldn’t need to be too fussy where we played.

I’d rather our home game against Franchise was the first one of the season in that case. I don’t want them polluting somebody else’s venue, let alone our new one.

We might not have played our last competitive fixture at KM after all. Hell, if Plough Lane itself is viable, play them there.

Whatever happens though, at least we’re now just months away. We don’t have to worry about the money side of things for a little while, and after the last four months it will be even better to look forward to something nice.

And if we all have to wear masks at games – we could service the debt through AFCW-branded ones alone…

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