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A (rare) Friday update

Ambassador, you’re spoiling us…

As your editor is off to Vicarage Road rather than Plough Lane tomorrow, I feel obliged to write something that distracts you from doing any work.

The transfer window is closed until the end of the season, we’re considering a pop at the playoffs rather than (currently) making an assault on them.

We’re thankfully looking upwards rather than behind our shoulder – and that’s a very nice feeling, considering the last 4/5 years.

While we’re still licking our wounds from Orient, there’s not much to post about, right?

Helpfully, last night the club did an update from Mick Buckley about various AFCW related things.

It primarily focuses around the transfer dealings from last month, which strangely feel a lifetime ago.

I think the ins and outs we had were largely unpredicted, especially those who left SW17.

The biggest one was Assal going, which is something the club clearly didn’t expect to happen.

If MB is right about him “very open minded and enthusiastic about the culture in Qatar” then there was a clear turning of heads.

And the comment about them paying a lot more didn’t escape my notice.

It sounded like an involuntary cash-in, because whoever he signed for matched the release fee and there was nothing we could do.

It is telling that it was a rich club in the Middle East who did that though, rather than a Championship or even League One side…

We were also clearly blindsided by Maghoma giving up football and moving to Franchise, and especially Towler being recalled then sold to Pompey.

I’m not quite so sure if Buckley should be wishing the former well in the next stage of his career though.

Reading between the lines, it does seem that we struggle to offer what really matters in transfer dealings, which is of course hard cash.

I don’t disbelieve MB when he said that Plough Lane is known for having a good atmosphere. When we’re on it, so to speak, it can make a good din.

But certainly through my trips to other grounds in recent years, and having brief glimpses into the mentality of professional footballers – I don’t think how we came to be is that much of a deal-clincher.

Granted, we’ve earned respect and even admiration at times. But especially now, the only people who seem to be in awe at what we’ve done is us…

I doubt if what Brizzle City ever offered us for Jack Currie will become public knowledge.

That said, it must have been a shock for JJ and Craig Cope to go there and find his name on the target list.

I wonder if that was in the back of our collective minds when they bid for him?

Currie does seem a smart lad with his head screwed on though, you can see it just in his mature performances on the field.

He knows, and we do too, that he’ll be off in the summer should a decent fee land on our desk. Though I bet he won’t be going to Ashton Gate.

Buckley says that an extra eight percent was put into the kitty for January transfers, which doesn’t sound a lot.

Though one speculates whether that percentage was even lower at the beginning.

Paying off the first lot of Plough Lane Bonds is a noble aim, but at the same time we do have to fund a football team that should be aiming for League One again.

Both should be maxed out as much as possible.

You never want to have any more debt than you can cope with. It is, after all, the road to ruin if you’re not careful.

You certainly don’t want to get a reputation for offering a bond scheme then struggle to pay it off – ask Wasps.

We can’t rely on the bulk of holders rolling over their money, especially not now wallets are tightening.

As Buckley says at the end of the article, we owe around £10m in bonds and £400k in interest.

Despite what I said just now, most football clubs have some kind of big debt against them, or so it seems, and I think we’ll be no exception.

We need to remember that the product on the pitch has to be of a certain standard, otherwise people will get bored and/or think the club is going in the wrong direction.

For that, you need better players. And better players cost money.

Don’t do that, and crowds drop. Which means it’s harder to pay off debts. Which means buying better players becomes harder. Which means… you get the idea.

We’re a bit wiser these days, but we must always remember we’re a football club first and foremost. It’s why at least 95% of us are here in the first place.

It’s a balancing act I don’t envy, but over-focusing on the debt could be as damaging as spunking the whole lot on the next Kyle Hudlin.

I do have some sympathy for AFCW when it comes to announcing transfers, fees and whatnot.

That’s a classic case of what you do in the football industry against what fans think they’re entitled to know.

Time will tell if we’re stronger at the end of January as opposed to the beginning of it. If we are, then we may well extend our season after all.

Tomorrow against Carlisle will be a good test of that. We need to start finding the net more often (I still have nightmares about Chislett’s miss at Brisbane Road), but we knew that anyway.

Get at least a point tomorrow, and we may feel we’re on the right track again.

With the comments above re: funding the squad going forward, I’m intrigued to hear the aim of having a “top third League One budget by 2026”.

Personally, I’d rather the club aimed high on those sort of things, and accept that we might fall short.

The alternative is to stagnate and be content in being mid-table mediocrity in L2. That usually ends with fighting off relegation to the Conference, because other teams overtake us.

Can we do it? Well, we’re about to open an education centre (whatever one of those is), and we’ve always needed to generate a lot more revenue from PL than we do.

After all, when was the last time you heard about our conference facilities being let out? Where are the publicity photos of some property exhibition at our humble abode?

All in all, it does seem we’re a fair bit better organised than we were last season. Which isn’t difficult, admittedly.

Relegation continues to suck, but at least it forced us to sober up and get our house in order.

It’s easy to forget just how in a mess we were across the board even as recently as last August, so that in itself is a big bonus this season.

But then, being an off-field mess isn’t new at AFC Wimbledon.

As I’ve just been reminded elsewhere, it was around this time in 2007 that the Ryman League deducted us eighteen points.

That particular episode stripped us of our naivety, though IMO Darlogate II turned out to be the fuckup too far.

Just read some of the stuff I put on here from April 2014 over it. I believe it was actually worse than what was publicly stated.

Seriously, I had a brief look while writing this. Even now, the incompetence still amazes me.

Back to 2023, and tomorrow will be another big test, although I reckon we’ll know whether playoffs are over by Easter and not before.

We have at least fifteen games left**, and I wouldn’t be surprised if teams book their places on the last game of the season.

** – a special prize to the first one who spotted the mistake over our upcoming games in the last SW19 update. A mistake I’ve only just discovered.

What will happen? Who knows, but it could be fun to find out…

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