The Wrexham takeover by Rob McElhenny and Ryan Reynolds is nothing short of a fairytale, but when you consider their timing it becomes nothing short of miraculous!
To have secure funding in such a time of crisis is unbelievably reassuring. Without the change of ownership we would be fighting for our lives; instead, we could be in a remarkably strong position as we prepare for our next campaign.
Sadly, there will be a lot of unemployed footballers this Summer. The situation reminds me of when ITV Digital went bust: clubs cut their wage bills, some players were offered contracts on reduced terms, the less fortunate were released into a buyer’s market.
We are remarkably fortunate to be entering this nightmarish situation in the knowledge that we are financially secure, and with money to spend, although I would point out that sometimes you make your own luck: we’ve been the only National League side operating without debt for the last few years, so perhaps our good fortune is good karma!
Obviously, the fact that we’ve attracted new owners isn’t luck; it’s a reward for the way the club was run. However, the timing of the change is remarkably fortuitous. Football is nowhere near the end of its COVID ordeal, and there is a real danger that clubs will go to the wall. Already Dover have shut up shop, and although there hasn’t been a domino effect yet, I wouldn’t assume the season will be able to end just because most clubs have voted to play on.
No matter what, the prospects for next season are brighter, with the effect of the coronavirus vaccine hopefully kicking in. We’ll be in a great position to capitalize.
As I said earlier, the transfer market will be flooded with players who have been released as a consequence of the financial crisis COVID has created. A manager with money to spend will be like a kid in a sweetshop, and will need to be judicious in selecting the best players available rather than rushing into deals.
That similarity with the ITV Digital collapse is informative. The consequence of free agents flooding the market then was striking. Players of Championship quality found there weren’t enough spaces available at that level as clubs tightened their belts and reduced their squads. As a consequence, the quality of League One rose because players who couldn’t get a deal with a second tier club had to drop down.
Of course, that phenomenon trickled down the division, with players having to drop to levels they wouldn’t have wanted to play at, with an accompanying rise in standards across the board.
With money to spend, we ought to be able to shop judiciously at a higher level than we’d have anticipated. The excitable talk from fans of us swooping to sign high profile stars and Premier League players is well off the mark: the new owners have made it clear that the growth they envisage will be sustainable.
There’ll be no crazy spending sprees on big names, and frankly it’s naïve to think a Premier League player would be about to throw his place in the world’s most glamorous league to drop to the fifth level anyway!
However, a smart operator in the transfer market ought to be able to make a killing in these circumstances.
That’s a good reason to show faith in Dean Keates, and there’s absolutely no sign that the owners intend to do anything but that. Keates has always been well-connected, even within the context of the tightly-knit football community. Unlike some recent Wrexham managers, he clearly does his due diligence on a deal and isn’t minded to sign players on a whim.
Having a manager with a strategy this Summer will be crucial, as an excitable scattergun approach, as a manager splurges on players without stepping back to weigh up the market, would be potentially disastrous. We don’t want to waste a season as a consequence of making unwise signings in the Summer. That’s why Keates is the ideal man for the upcoming situation.