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Wrexham supporters have had a difficult time of things over the last few years. In the mid-1990s, they seemed likely to to break into the top two divisions of English football. Everything, however, fell apart in the first few years of this century. A financial crisis led to administration and relegation from the Football League at the end of last season. Some were concerned that this might sound the death knell for the oldest professional football club in Wales, but they have managed to stabilise themselves in the Blue Square Premier and currently sit in mid-table, still with an outside chance of making the play-offs for a place back in the Football League.
Off the pitch, however, they continue to be torn apart by what is rapidly becoming a vicious war of words between the club’s Supporters Trust and the owners of the club, which has culminated in an astonishing attack on the club’s supporters on the official website this week. The bone of contention is the rebuilding of a part of The Racecourse Ground. The plans were due to include a 5,000 seater stand but, when released, the plans themselves seemed to be limiting this new construction to a capacity of just 3,000. This, in itself, would perhaps not be a major concern. Wrexham’s average home crowds this season of around 3,500, it seems unlikely that they will be selling the place out in the near future.
What is more concerning, however, are plans for the current owners of the club to reduce their ownership of the club from one hundred per cent to just twenty per cent, with ownership passing to the property developers that will be in charge of the development of the stadium. This is an issue in two main respects. Firstly, what happens to any profit (and the profit from this venture could be sizeable)? Secondly, what happens to the club if the venture – which, whilst it could bring in a lot of money, retains an element of risk in the current financial climate – goes south and the new owners find themselves in trouble?
There can be little doubt that these are valid questions, and it should also be pointed out that the Wrexham Supporters Trust isn’t half a dozen activists with an explicit agenda beyond wishing to safeguard the long term future of their football club. The WST currently has around 600 members – roughly one in six of the people that turn out at The Racecourse Ground every week. For a club of the size of Wrexham FC, it is a strong organisation. The club, however, felt compelled to put the following message on the official website:
Once again we are concerned at the lack of factual information that the WST puts into the public domain. It is further evidence of their relentless plan to derail the planning application, mislead our fans and ultimately destroy our football club.
By making such reckless comments about an organisation that represents so many of their supporters, the club’s owners seem to be betraying their true colours. They have ended any form of contact with the trust apart from extremely unhelpful statements such as the one made above. If they spit their dummies out like this over what seem to be – especially in light of the club’s recent difficulties – perfectly legitimate concerns, it will surely only foster greater mistrust over what their motives are. There is talk that there are clashes of personality between the Trust Board and the owners, but the owners (and, by extension, the club itself) does itself no favours by refusing to deal with them and issuing such petulant statements as this.
Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.
I can’t believe the current owners are so naive as to think that passing 80% of the club to property developers will safeguard the club’s future, not with all the disastrous cases of the last 10 years. Notts County, Bury, York City, Wimbledon…and indeed Wrexham. No wonder the Supporters Trust is concerned. This sounds like sharp practice, satisfying the personal interests of a few unscrupulous individuals – again.
I think its a case of once bitten for their fans. They are quite rightly cautious when dealing with the new owners plans and I am absolutely staggered to read that the club owner wont sell just 10% shares in the club for £350,000!!!!! Thats the amount the supporters trust have and are willing to invest in the club in return for the shareholding. thats a massive amount of cash for a league one type club, never mind a conference team.
It does beg the question, do the owners have a plan to assett strip?
The uncertainty for the future amongst the fans is understandable. Comments directed at the supporters trust have been scandelous, sadly the local press prints them whereas the response from the trust is invariabley ignored.
I am a WST member and I am staggered that the club can attack a supporters group that probably account for 20% of its fanbase. If they answered relevant questions instead of slagging THEIR CUSTOMERS off we would have a lot more confidence in their long term plans.
I for one totally back the board and find it hard that a neutral can take the side of the WST, without really looking into what is going on.
Without the current board, there wouldn’t even be a Wrexham FC. The chairman has bankrolled too numerous to mention signings, but still the WST want to get rid of him. All of this is because he won’t sell them any shares in the club. The question on my lips is…. why the hell should he have to sell shares to them.
It’s about time that the WST board either backed our board who are trying to put the club on a proper footing or went and supported another club. Maybe they’d like to go and support Cefn Druids who are selling their ground. Maybe they could start attacking their board instead.
The way the WST are behaving, they deserve to be slagged off and long may it continue as long as they behave like idiots.
Dave Bryant should read the supplied literature before opening his big laptop. However I imagine he/she is a WUM who may have followed a link from redpassion website.
Lets not hijack this decent site please