Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
Saturday’s game is crucial in the context of our season but in the big scheme of things it’s nothing compared to Tuesday night’s fixture. The vote on Glyndwr University’s offer of a 99-year lease on The Racecourse isn’t just the biggest moment of our week: it’s one of the biggest in our history.
I sincerely hope the vote is a foregone conclusion as the consequences of turning down the offer are unthinkable. The root of all our problems over the last couple of decades was the ownership of the ground, so to reject the opportunity to take matters in our own hands would be simply crazy.
The availability of some prime real estate on the edge of town before 2011 attracted all manner of speculators and opportunists. When Glyndwr stepped in they rescued the club. The businessmen who claimed they were desperate to run our club suddenly melted away and we were afforded a level of stability which allowed the WST to take over and return the club to an even keel financially. We must vote to accept the lease so we can continue to plan for the future.
If there’s any doubt that we should vote yes, we should ponder the alternative. What happens if we say no? A cash-strapped University is under pressure to monetise this massive asset, so if 99 years of rent from the club doesn’t materialise they’ll have to do something else. Surely that means selling the ground. Then all those unpleasant characters will come crawling out of the woodwork and we’ll be thrust into the nightmare all over again. I can understand someone being averse to risks and feeling nervous about taking the lease on, but the alternative is disaster and oblivion.
Of course, there is a risk involved in taking on the responsibility of paying £100,000 a year plus maintenance costs, but that’s no reason to vote against the lease. After all, nobody ever achieved anything without taking a chance.
This is an exciting opportunity for us to make a difference to our club. It’s a real source of pride to be in charge, and so many people earned their spurs during the battle to take over, but since it ended that militancy which kept us alive has naturally been replaced by a more passive support. Plenty of fans add “Part-owner of Wrexham Football Club” to their social media profiles and rub Chester’s noses in it with the suggestion that they failed to save their club, but their role is essentially limited to paying the membership fee and buying match tickets.
That’s fair enough, but here’s an opportunity for everyone to do more. Every penny we rake in at the ground will now go to the club. Every pint, chip and Mars Bar you buy at a game is a direct contribution to the financial well-being of Wrexham FC.
Taking up the lease will require flexibility and innovation from those who run the club and the trust. I’m confident that will happen. It will also require our enthusiastic support. Our recent history tells me that’ll happen too. Wonderfully, the next phase of the battle to make Wrexham FC a viable fan-owned club does not entail protests, vigils and court cases; it’s just requires you to have a pint at the ground before the game.
Vote yes to the future.
Vote yes to opportunity.
Vote yes to a beer with your mates.