Patience brings its own rewards, and the press release issued this afternoon confirming that agreement has now been reached to ensure the take-over of Wrexham Football Club by the Wrexham Supporters Trust is certainly news that has been worth waiting for. Over the last year or so, this club has been the source of one of British football’s hardest soap operas, featuring a series of twists and turns which has, at times, seemed so bizarre as to be scarcely credible. There has been cast list of rogues, tyre-pickers and ne’er do wells which has led to an ongoing feeling that there might just be one final sting in the tail for those that have worked so tirelessly of late to attempt to move the club into mutual ownership after years of mismanagement at the hands of a model of ownership which has consistently failed the club and its supporters.
As recently as the end of last week, it felt as if the prize on offer may be slipping from the grasp of the WST, with hushed talk of contractual obligations which may have left the trust’s financial planning for the club in tatters. On Friday, the stark warning was given that the WST had until close of business today to to submit a non-refundable deposit, or the club’s owners would have no option but to start talking to other suitors. This may or may not have been the latest in a long line of brinkmanship in the part of the club’s owners, bit what really matters is that this evening such considerations may just start to feel like a thing of the past. Today is a day for setting the divisions of the past to one side, for looking forward whilst never forgetting the circumstances which led to today’s news. The last twelve months in the history of this venerable old institution must never be repeated.
If the old world of Wrexham FC is to now be ushered out and a new future is to be ushered in, though, the future for the club may require tough decisions to be made. What we can say with a degree of certainty is that money-losing has to become a thing of the past. It has been the propping up of Wrexham FC’s financial profligacy which ultimately led to series of predicaments in which the club has come to find itself over the last few months or so. The WST has to make this club self-supportive in the future, and the message that must be projected from this survival episode needs to be that this culture must never be allowed to become part of the culture of the club again. The “saviours”, with their promises of future riches through models of benign dictatorship, have failed. Democracy, with the benefits and risks of that are entailed, is the future of this club.
Similarly, the notion of the WST can no longer be spoken about in the third person by those that have had reservations over the organisation’s aptitude for the task that lies ahead. All supporters of the club need to pitch in to ensure that the football club can reach the fullest of its potential. There are plenty of examples from elsewhere which confirm that this model of ownership can be made to work, including the likes of Wimbledon and Exeter City, but what is required is the unity of all supporters in the greater interest of the football club. With this announcement and the exchanging of contracts that will now surely follow, hatchets must be buried and collective responsibility must be assumed. This isn’t just a task that should be undertaken by those that have been skeptical of the WST, its constitutional make-up or its aims in the past, either. The WST now needs to go that extra mile to ensure the building of bridges with previous adversaries.
It is worth taking a moment to consider the work undertaken by the Trust Board of the WST over the last few months or so. It is true to say that that previous few months haven’t been entirely without hiccups at some turns, but those on the Trust Board have held their nerve admirably when the pressure upon them to simply withdraw from their ultimate aim and allow those that would have sought to undermine them to win through, no matter how benign or otherwise their motives might have been. The modern media environment demands reaction to every challenge and every rumour, but those on the Trust Board have acted with commendable dignity under pressure which may have felt close to intolerable at times.
The Trust Board, however, are not the only ones that the wider fan-base of the club should have a have a debt of gratitude to this evening – diligent work was carried out by many supporters of the club which showed up the gaping flaws in bids for the club which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. When Stephanie Booth was attempting her take-over of the club, for example, she mentioned in her proposals that she would not be assuming a directorship until 2012 without mentioning that the was disqualified from acting as a company director until then. It was the detective work of a supporter which uncovered this, and, similarly, the abortive take-over of Rob Bickerton and Van Morton Investments ended after supporters’ protests at rumours of links between the group and the disgraced former owner of Chester City, Stephen Vaughan.
Whilst it is to be most sincerely hoped that the lessons of the past will not be forgotten at Wrexham, this evening is a time for looking forward rather than back. The team takes on Mansfield Town at The Racecourse Ground in the Blue Square Premier tomorrow evening, sitting at the top of the Blue Square Premier. Manager Dean Saunders may have departed for Doncaster Rovers last week, but a win at Grimsby Town at the weekend indicated that the progress made by the club on the pitch since the start of the season can be continued. A return to the Football League is obviously – and understandably – the aim of every Wrexham supporter, but that the club now has the chance of a clean slate and a fresh beginning should in itself be a cause for celebration in itself. With the final confirmation of the transfer of the ownership of the club, however, will come the beginning of a fresh set of challenges. From here on, it is down to the town of Wrexham to prove that it deserves the diligence of the club’s Trust Board and its hardcore of support over the last few months. We are confident that it does.
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