An impressive array of established football figures have been attached to the McElhenney and Reynolds project over the last few months, but if we’re able to make it back into the Football League, an unexpectedly important contributor to our ongoing success might be Nick De Marco.
De Marco is the most prominent football lawyer in the country at the moment, and last month he enjoyed a victory over the Football League which could help our attempt to scale the leagues enormously.
EFL clubs had to comply with a soft salary cap until last Summer. That meant that they were allowed to spend a percentage of their turnover on wages, which clearly suited sides which could generate income independently. However, before this season started the EFL introduced a hard salary cap in Leagues One or Two, meaning each club could not go over a set figure for their division. Obviously, that would lead to a financial levelling-out of the teams as big teams wouldn’t be able to splash out on players.
Our owners’ intention to exploit new commercial markets and ability to attract a new level of sponsorship mean we’d probably have hoped for some leeway financially. After all, what’s the point in bringing in more money if you can’t spend it on the team?
This is where De Marco comes in. He fought the ruling and won, so for the moment at least the soft salary cap has been reintroduced. It’s an extra incentive to aim for promotion this season, as we would be in a position to hit the EFL with momentum and the financial wriggle room to fully take advantage of our new circumstances.
Of course, the ruling doesn’t automatically suit a club in Wrexham’s situation, and that’s why the new owners’ decision to construct a sustainable model for the club is so important.
If we were to go up under WST ownership, we’d be a fairly big club by League Two standards. We averaged 4,057 fans at home games last season, which would place us solidly mid-table in a list of 2019-20 League Two averages. We’d be 14th, nestled between Carlisle United and Newport County, but that doesn’t tell the full story.
The amount of fans coming through the turnstiles at the away end would be much greater; in fact, we might have to consider turfing the home fans out of the Wrexrent Stand to accommodate them. Better get that new Kop built in a hurry then!
Last season, the average number of away fans at The Racecourse was a paltry 157, and frankly even that’s a big improvement from our early days in the National League. In our first season at this level only one club took more than 200 fans to The Racecourse: surprisingly, it was Altrincham, who actually had over 300 supporters in the away end.
The average away attendance in League Two last season was 476. Indeed, the club with the lowest following on the road in the entire Football League – Crawley Town – took an average of 150 fans per away game. Every other EFL club brought more fans than the average National League side brought to North Wales, despite the scenery!
I know this is a rather rough calculation, but by that measure, we’d get an extra 319 fans through the turnstiles per match, and our average crowd would rise to 12th in League Two. In reality our average attendance would be higher than that, of course. From being rather isolated, we’d suddenly be in a league with plenty of local rivals.
Altrincham is the only National League club within 50 miles of The Racecourse, Stockport County is the only other within 80 miles, and there are only four more – Halifax Town, Solihull Moors, Notts County and Chesterfield – within a 100 mile radius.
There were 9 clubs within that distance in League Two last season, with 3 within 50 miles and a further 3 within 80 miles. Clearly those clubs would bring stronger away followings than their average, and another boost to our crowds would be the natural bounce a promoted side experiences. Mix in the celebrity factor and we ought to be one of the better-supported clubs in League 2: an extra 500 fans would boost our notional attendance to 6th in the division.
In those circumstances, with money coming into the club from a number of different directions, we’d be in a position to invest in the squad without leaning on our benefactors. Assisted, of course, by Mister De Marco!