Hang on, that’s not how the song goes…
As the wait for Godot – AKA finding out when League One gets its arse in gear** – continues, it slipped my mind that yesterday was the 18th year since 28/5.
** – latest deadline for Indecision Day : June 8th. By the time the Posh chairman finally stops threatening everyone, it will be time for 2020/21 to start.
Funny how time flies.
Back in the day, I used to do writeups on how far we’ve come since that horrible 24 hours, but in recent years I’ve never bothered.
We’ve moved on to the point that we’re both unrecognisable from that day, and yet oddly almost at the level we were before then.
So I was going to leave any updates for next month. That was, until the club gave us some news late yesterday afternoon…
More on our new minority owner in due course, but signing the construction contract for NPL is that final hurdle vaulted over.
It means Buckingham
can’t chase us up and sue our arses into oblivion can finally complete it, without having to rely on yet another Letter of Intent.
I guess they must have known that our ability to pay up was a matter of when, not if. I didn’t fancy the optics of them stopping work because we couldn’t cough up.
Especially when there’s now an ever-increasing amount of photos coming almost every day, making this whole downtime just that bit more palatable.
No, we haven’t finalised the loan yet, but it appears we’re looking for a lot less than £6m…
The big news, long term as much as anything, is that Nick Robertson is a new minority shareholder. As you know, he’s bought 10% for a fee that many are guestimating is around £2.5m
Those ITK are aware he was one of los tres amigos who arrived on the scene late last year.
That he’s now solo doesn’t matter, because from our point of view – his investment has taken away most of the NPL finance headache.
The question is though, what’s in it for him?
Well, according to Wiki, he is (or was) worth £220m, he co-founded Asos, and could even afford a £70m divorce bill.
The club’s OS update suggests he’s a bit of philanthropist, funding the Polka theatre refurb and saving the Wimbledon Bookfest.
Even so, you don’t build up that level of wealth without wanting something back – local or not.
Will Plough Lane be renamed the Asos Stadium? If it was, how many would really care?
Assuming it’s £2.5m, that’s pocket change for him. But you don’t put even that amount of money in without having some influence back.
He’s a businessman first and foremost, after all.
At the very least, I would hope we start tapping into his business acumen, which is something we’ve badly needed for a long time.
With all due respect to those who work in the Civil Service, at times AFCW looks like a sub-committee within the Department of Administrative Affairs than a professional football club.
I would expect him to be on the Football Club Board, unless that gets scrapped and we have a more general (or “traditional”) board of directors.
The need to be much more professional has long been obvious, doubly so with NPL months away and especially in the post-CV19 world.
And having somebody like him, who has built up a very large business in the eCommerce era, is worth more to us than whatever he paid.
If we use him. He won’t stick around if he’s forced to take a back seat.
Perhaps the most important thing about him joining won’t be felt just yet. But it’s potentially game changing – it’s the first time we’ve had a proper external investor.
Sure, we’ve had moneymen like Mike Richardson, without whom we’d still be in the Ryman Premier, but they’re Wimbledon fans first and foremost.
Robertson isn’t, although he’s started coming to our games in recent years.
Fundamentally, it will get people used to having a non-AFCW fan with deep pockets around the place.
For obvious reasons (ie what happened eighteen years ago yesterday), there’s long been distrust and actual paranoia about anyone who was an “outsider”.
Some of our fans genuinely believe that we would be moved up to Buckinghamshire again if we even thought about getting extra funds from somewhere.
I really wish I was exaggerating.
It’s been notable that with the exception of a very few we-must-never-ever-EVER-take-external-investment hardliners, the reaction to yesterday has been universally positive.
There’s been some amusing volte-faces too from certain quarters. But then, flash a bit of money around and you’ll always get your ringpiece cleaned 😉
That’s why for all the gushing over the DT still owning 75% of the club, the dynamism has now changed.
Once people overcome the paranoia of somebody like Robertson being around, it becomes easier to change the structure of the club.
If, in a couple of years time, he wants to buy another 10% of the club, I think he’ll have to go to the DT membership as it then gets into this whole restrictive action stuff.
But if they think he’s doing a good job and the amount offered is right, he’ll likely get whatever the percentages needed are.
Quite easily, too.
Remember : when the whole tres amigos thing came about, there were a LOT of people even then who were in the give-me-a-good-offer camp, and who weren’t rejecting it outright.
People aren’t as dogmatic when it comes to actual hard cash on the table.
His addition will get us over the line with regards the new gaff, but perhaps we’ve got a first glimpse of how AFCW’s structure will pan out?
We’ve never been able to afford (literally) the “purity” some still demand, but minority shareholders having influence over all bar the most fundamental stuff could be the way to go.
If Robertson and a couple of other investors eventually owned around 40-45% of the club, I doubt if the vast majority of fans would ultimately give a toss.
Such an arrangement would be done a) by stealth, so as not to scare the horses, and b) with the approval of the bulk of DT members.
After all, in “real life” around 95% of all supporters are mainly here for the first team. And have been for the last eighteen years.
Anyway, interesting times ahead – and exciting ones too. We’ve got that bit of extra security as we head towards the last furlongs of returning home, and it’s a much-needed shot in the arm.
NPL remains on schedule to be completed by October 25th – your editor’s birthday – and that day can’t come too soon.
True, we won’t be able to get a full house once it opens. But you never know what the scientists will come up with before then.
Hell, they might even figure out a way of making League One clubs come up with a decision…