How on earth can fans buy a football club?

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Word count: 1,000. Must stick to word count, keep it concise. Oh, that’s 17 already.

Word count: 980 remaining. Let’s go!!

I am sure your emotions, like mine, have been all over the place, day by day, hour by hour. I am scared of getting excited, in case I get let down but with YOUR HELP, all our fans and kind football fans across the globe, it does seem possible that the absolute worst case may not happen.

Why not? Because of the supporters club fund raiser which has currently passed over £300k as I type, 50% to the way of the total.
I am not here to inspire you, but I would perhaps like to convince a few sceptics as to what the point of it all is.

Firstly, £500k will not buy a football club. As it happens, a £1 will buy a football club right now.

The £500k would simply go a significant way towards proving to the EFL that we, the fans, and our former or potentially future director, Jonathan Jackson, has proof of funds and is a fit and proper person.

Of course, £500k is nowhere near enough even to run our newly stripped down football club. Gerald Krasner talked of a £5m bond which would be required. And I think this is what he meant, that the EFL require proof of finance to cover our two year operating forecast.

A simpler way of looking at it is that this is essentially proof of funds to service a newly capped wage bill of £2.5m over two years, i.e. proof of funds in a worst case scenario of having to pay all the costs and generate no income.

In reality, we will bring in some income, but we may also spend more, plus there will be other operating costs and staff wages. So £5m is a rule of thumb to prove to the EFL that anyone interested in buying can cover £5m in the event of us losing that much money.

£5m would still be a stretch from £500k. However, without naming names, companies, sponsors, organisations or high net worth individuals:

IF and it is a big IF, the fans can raise £500k, then there are potential and probable (or ideally guaranteed) avenues already lined up that the club can tap into, where money can be invested or borrowed to make it up to a much more respectable number.

Would that be £5m? Again, ideally but probably not. But the EFL do not want another Bury on their hands and may actually be willing to waive or reduce the requirement for two years’ proof of funds, to one year or eighteen months, or reviewable in 12 months. Or someone or some entity may be able to underwrite £2m, if we absolutely needed it. I’m being vague because I have to be, not because I am vague on this.

Let’s make no bones about it, this is an option whereby we will have a low wage bill and a skeleton staff, and it may be that we get relegated to League Two by the end of the season.

Not ideal I know but suddenly we only need £1m per season to run a football club, and in a post pandemic world, our standard crowds may actually cover what is required.

If they hang around that is. And I would certainly hope many of our fans will hang around (or even return) given what we have been through, and accept the sacrifice of losing quite a few football matches as the price of actually having a football club to watch.

I’m not here to paint a pretty picture. If the options are to lose our football club or to lose quite a few football matches, then I would personally choose the latter, safe in the knowledge that one day soon, in a year or two, the tide will turn in our favour again.

If indeed, we can keep some element of the academy and a recruitment team, we can start to become profitable, or at least break even in player trading after two years.

And we would have a football club run and owned by our fans!!

Now, there is still a big DW sized (white) elephant in the room. The most depressing thing about this whole scenario is the fact we could lose it.

I’ve struggled with it, and it is gut wrenching but it is the club which gives us all the great memories not the building in which it plays its matches.

However, if it did fall into other hands, then that is something we would have to accept and ALL OF THE ABOVE as it stands, only involves buying and running the football club, not the stadium.

I am going to be careful what I say here but the lessons of Stockport County, Coventry City and Brighton & Hove Albion live long in the memory and a football club which doesn’t own its own ground is not something I wish for.

So even after all of the above, I hope and pray that the rumoured front runners bidding to buy the club come through and seal the deal. If they do, then we really need to look at that stadium and how we can use it more, make it a true community stadium and yes, work with the rugby a lot closer.

Where does that leave the £500k though? Will it no longer be needed? Well, actually, it will buy a significant share of the football club and possibly the stadium.

We will have a team to support and actual bricks and mortar to call our own!

See I’m getting over-excited again!

We have a chance to re-build our club, taking all of the good things from our past and retaining and cherishing them.

I know several people have floated the idea of a phoenix club if the worst comes to the worst, including Alan in an article here, but much as the dreamy idealist in me fancies a bit of that, the primary objective has to be to stay in the EFL, for all its faults.

I don’t want a football club run by volunteers, I want to see a good chunk of the 75 regular wage earning people who were made redundant get their jobs back.

I want that family that we all talk about this club being, to come back twice as strong.

Winning football matches is nice, but we should all be prepared to lose a few more in future, yet also celebrating we have our existence. Eighty eight years and counting.

This is why the fans need to become a proper governed part of the club with representation on the board.

I can only applaud the work of our MP, Lisa Nandy, who is working tirelessly with administrators, but more importantly is privileged enough to have direct contact with bidders and potentially other investors if the fans’ bid needs to happen to ensure that Wigan Athletic will not die.

There is still work to do, gaps that need to be negotiated away, there will be twists and turns, despondency, disbelief and false hope but with so many good people working on the range of options (too many names to mention but you know who they are, and I feel I must call out Caroline and Jonathan who have worked tirelessly for free on this for weeks) we must and we will SAVE OUR CLUB.

If you can afford it, please donate. It is an investment in a football club that has given us all unbelievable memories and now we need to put it back together again.

To donate, click here

Thanks for reading
Cheers, Jimmy

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