A High Stakes Game

Three directors’ statements in a week, and it’s not even Friday yet! Something big must be happening!

Hopefully it’s the final writhing not only of a regime, but of a redundant model of financial management at Wrexham FC. Yes, the stakes are that high.

The optimistic part of my brain hopes the trio of missives are a desperate attempt by the board to squeeze one last concession from the WST before the process they’ve prolonged, while trying to make accusations of prevarication against the fans’ body stick, is over.

They found they could get the fans to pay their tax bill by handing extra donations over the turnstiles last season, to pay their employees’ wages and even pay a bond to the Conference, who were looking to force their hand in order to facilitate the WST’s takeover. Would anyone be surprised if they looked to go to the well one last time before they left? In what other business would you find customers so willing to come to the till?

It’s an unsustainable model. Businessmen buy football clubs, telling us they’re ploughing money in so we should trust them. But there comes a point where they want that investment back, with interest. Some clubs flourish with such owners at the helm, but their long term future is not guaranteed: I always feel confused when I see the delight of fans of Crawley Town. Can’t they see that a fall from such unlikely heights is inevitable?

There was an interesting article in the Guardian by David Lacey on the shift in the nature of Premiership.owners. Although the Prem’s a world apart from the level we inhabit, the following paragraph caught my eye.

“It is no longer enough to win matches. That merely ensures security in the short term. In the long run the average Premier League club hopes to catch the roving eye of a passing oligarch, sheikh or almost any billionaire who is not suspected of having made his fortune in drug trafficking or the white slave trade.”

It certainly seems to sum up a fair amount of our existence (with the exception of the final sentence, as I’m sure the Conference wouldn’t be too fussed about where the money came from!) It’s particularly reminiscent of the year before the WST was finally accepted by the board as the only game in town. Read it again, bearing in mind that this, above anything else, is the most compelling argument possible for fans to own a club.

Who cares if there’s an element of belt-tightening? Who could possible object if we let reality play a part in the running of the club’s finances? Surely any right-minded person will embrace the thought that the club will be run transparently, that we won’t have to wonder why certain transactions take place, and whether they are in the interest of the club. Funnily enough, I like the idea of going to the club shop and knowing that the money I spend there will actually go straight into the running of the club.

Come to think of it, I also like the idea of simply being able to go to the club shop!

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