THE DONS TRUST BOARD’S GRAHAM STACEY SHARES SOME THOUGHTS FROM A WEEK ON SOCIAL MEDIA
With the business end of the season in sight, the DTB is putting every effort into supporting the club‘s fight to stay in League One. One of the most important things we can do is to keep out of the way and let the football professionals at the club concentrate on the football stuff.
But having spent a bit more time than advisable on social media this week, and having waded through the name-calling, it has become apparent that not everyone is aware of everything that’s going on at the club behind the scenes. In some quarters, that’s led to panic that nothing is happening. That’s only natural, so at the prompting of Daniel and Sam on Facebook, I’ve decided to put a little bit of a round-up together for today’s matchday programme.
One hot topic over on Facebook in particular, seems to have been why we haven’t got more money to spend on players and whether selling out to someone might see us comfortably in mid table.
Well, there’s no denying we’ve been a little bit skint of late. But firstly, I don’t use that as an excuse for anything. The Wimbledon I fell in love with always used it as a motivation, not an excuse for defeatism.
In any case, I think the financial situation is temporary. We’ve relatively recently moved into the Cherry Red records Stadium, and only more recently had fans inside it.
Yes, we’ve taken some hits. But we currently have above-budgeted attendances, Broncos have just started renting the ground (that’s worth £200k-plus per year to us over a full season), we’ve just started renting the place out for weddings and events (targeting another six figures-plus per annum), the Education Hub is just launching (that could bring in anything upwards of £200k/year) and we have a team looking at enabling developments to expand the stadium – at minimal cost – to increase the potential to ‘sweat the asset’ between games and bring in more fans on matchdays.
On top of that, Plough Lane Bond 2 is well on its way to hitting £3.3m before we need to refinance our loan next month. The first Bond’s average rate was around 2.5% while PLB2 averages around 6% compared to a commercial loan of 10% plus arrangement fees. This saves us literally tens of thousands of pounds on interest each month, and that money can go to operational costs – yep, including playing budget.
We are at day dot in many ways. We’ve built a stadium and financed it in, largely, a couple of years. Stay up and I’m hugely confident we’ll have a bigger playing budget next year – which seems to be what some people really care about, I guess.
And, of course, if we’re talking about clubs with sugar daddies, most other clubs are in debt (to their owners who – as history teaches us – aren’t always so friendly), while just about every single club below us in the pyramid is owned by such a character. It’s quite demonstrably possible to be owned by a rich dude and be in huge debt and be much less successful than we are.
I think it’s always worth remembering that.
And are we really talking about replacing friendly debt with debt to a businessman? I fail to see the perks.
Having said all that, we as a board have stated on many occasions that we are actively looking for outside investment. It’s not an either/or situation. We brought in £2.5m not that long ago, no strings attached. It can be done. We are in talks over another such deal at the moment.
But as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, along with many others on the DTB and I believe the operational board (which is actually the PLC, of course), I’m always glad to hear from anyone with ideas that might help us be better.
There’s a lot of divisiveness on social media at the moment, and of course while we aren’t on the best run on the field people want someone to shout at or blame. I don’t think that achieves all that much, personally. Together, we are stronger.
After all, we all want what’s best for the club, so why wouldn’t we all work together for it? I just hope everyone is open to that…