AFC Wimbledon badgeSlowly but surely

Dons Trust Board vice-chair Rob Crane explains why there have been delays in making announcements about the progress of the crowdfunding initiative to help meet the cost of our new stadium.

Welcome back to the Cherry Red Records Stadium for the start of what, all being well, will be our final season here before returning home to Wimbledon – and what an amazing achievement that will be.

In 2002 we were told that AFC Wimbledon would not be “in the wider interests of football”. We were told that aiming to get back to the Football League was being naive. And we were told that returning home to Wimbledon was an impossible dream. It’s sometimes only when I stop, take a step back and reflect that I realise just how far we have come and what we are on the verge of achieving.

In the middle of May this year we received fixed-price costs for the new stadium from Buckingham Group Contracting. That triggered a period of immense activity, activity that will be ongoing as you read this, with the various sources of financing that we had got provisionally lined up (including the crowdfunding) now needing to be nailed down.

On 3 June we held an open meeting to reveal the latest plans and kick-start the pre-registration phase of the crowdfunding – the period during which people could sign up and indicate their willingness to be involved, without any commitment, ahead of the campaign going “live”. Quite justifiably, we received some criticism for not communicating what happened at that meeting more promptly, so let me briefly try to explain why that was.

The fact that the crowdfunding involves issuing more shares in AFCW PLC means that we fell under the constraints of the various pieces of corporate and securities law that relate to share issues, and this has prevented us from being as agile with our communications as we would have liked.

For instance, at one point during the summer I drafted what I thought was, frankly, a fairly run-of-the-mill update for the club’s official website about the progress of work on the stadium, just to let supporters know the state of play. We were told that we couldn’t release that update unless we first shared with the legal experts the detailed contract that lay behind the works, so that they could double-check the accuracy of what we were going to say.

I can see the logic of that: what we say about the stadium is, in a way, part of a “prospectus”, part of a promise that we are holding out to prospective shareholders. It makes sense that everything we say about it is first independently checked to make sure that we aren’t misleading prospective shareholders. But that didn’t make it any less frustrating for us.

The degree of scrutiny was compounded by the sheer volume of material that we were attempting to get signed off, which created something of a logjam. (Even this page, which doesn’t go into very much detail, has had to go through the same checks – hence the “disclaimer” text that we have to reproduce below.)

The crowdfunding should be “live” around the time you read this, accompanied by much more information. Hopefully you are all as excited about the possibilities as I am. We’ve got through that initial sticky patch. The focus now can be on rallying together to achieve what just a few short years ago still seemed an impossible dream.

Investing in private businesses involves risks, including loss of capital, illiquidity, lack of dividends and dilution, and it should be done only as part of a diversified portfolio. Seedrs is targeted solely at investors who are sufficiently sophisticated to understand these risks and make their own investment decisions. This message has been approved as a financial promotion by Seedrs Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

This article originally appeared in the matchday programme for the pre-season games against Brentford/Bristol City.

6 comments

  1. I’ve interested to know when we will have an update where we are now with Seedrs…. whether there has been a sufficient uptake to date and if/when we can put money in.
    Also, as I have commented on the Club’s Facebook on more than one occasion- how can those who cannot or do not wish to ‘invest’ via Seedr make a contribution? ‘Buy a paving stone, brick, seat etc?
    Also, and I got no response from the Club on this idea- supporters paying to have their names woven into home shirts for inaugural season at NLP (Queens of the South did this for their centenary shirts last season; Ajax did one with former players’ names woven in when they left their old Olympic stadium).
    Overall, communication needs to improve. Club doesn t respond to Facebook comments and Webjam is clunky to say the least!
    Shall I hold my breath on a reply?

    • Hi Gregory. I’m involved somewhat on the periphery of the crowdfunding project but understand things should launch fairly soon – I don’t want to say anything more definite in case I inadvertently overpromise.

      I’ve also been feeding back into the team working on it the fact that there’s demand from people who can’t participate direct in the Seedrs campaign, and they’re aware of that. I think at the moment, though, they’re a bit restricted in terms of how they can respond to that in public. Not ideal. But they’re aware of the demand.

  2. I understand everything you are saying but it is not very convincing. So what is the new timetable and this should be on the Club website.

  3. Hi. Not expecting an answer soon, but what initiatives could there be regarding naming the stadium (personally prefer Plough Lane), and a seating section for people who wish to stand. Awaiting the day when we can invest the cash.

    • Hi Martin. The club is continuing to seek a naming-rights partner for the new stadium. But the crowdfunding incentives include everyone who buys £10 of shares being included in a draw to have the stadium named after them for 20% of our home matches in our first season at the ground. https://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/news/2019/july/crowdfunding-update-full-packages-revealed/

      Regarding a seating section for people who wish to stand, this isn’t something the club or the Trust would be able able to get involved in as persistent standing in seated areas breaches EFL ground regulations.

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