Last Tuesday was an historic night for the club as we took up a 99 year lease on The Racecourse, but one of the biggest rounds of applause in a packed Catrin Finch Theatre had nothing to do with the ownership of the ground. Instead it was a reaction to an attack on our model of fan-ownership, carried out on national television at our own home patch!
The last gasp victory over Cheltenham on Monday was glorious. BT Sport’s pre-match attempt to wrestle with a serious issue was rather less so. I can’t swim, so I avoid going into deep waters; perhaps they should take a similar view to getting out of their depth. The discussion of the trust’s capabilities by Mark Clemmit, Dean Saunders and Aaron Downes was uninformed and depressingly patronising.
Yet it all started so well, as Spencer Harris spoke eloquently about our ownership model. However, he wasn’t there to correct them when they followed up his pre-recorded words by disparaging the idea of lowly supporters getting above their station and daring to run a football club!
Saunders has taken most of the flak for this but Clemmit established the tone, questioning whether fans were capable of running a club by ourselves. Clearly the fact that we’ve been doing exactly that for the best part of five years had escaped him. It had escaped Downes too, who talked of us having to learn the ropes quickly. Remarkably they were working from a baseless assumption that trust members vote on all day-to-day issues, suggesting we’d recklessly sack managers after one bad result!
Surely Saunders knew better, but he spoke of us needing a “rich man” to come in and rescue us. A cursory knowledge of football history would tell you this model of ownership has failed consistently. Ask fans of dozens of bankrupt clubs where spending money your “rich man” lends you will end up. Haven’t we just turned a profit after decades of “rich men” failing to do so?
A detailed knowledge of Wrexham’s recent history will certainly tell you that an alternative to Saunders’ vision is required. His view of our situation is coloured by his relationship with Geoff Moss, whose hand over to the trust was acrimonious, and understandably managers don’t tend to care about club politics, just whether the board will give them more money for new players.
Yet surely he noticed that in August 2011, six weeks before he left when the fans takeover was imminent, his side were nearly denied the right to play at all? That the shortfall in a bond demanded due to concerns over the club’s financial collapse wasn’t covered by a “rich man” but by fans pledging £127,000 in one day?
Obtaining the Racecourse lease was a timely vindication of the model of fan ownership. Perhaps Clemmit, Saunders and Downes ought to have been at the vote to understand that we are not reckless fools, sending our club to hell in a hand basket. But where’s the attraction in letting the facts get in the way of a good story?