A big task for us as a fans-owned club
For those who may have missed it in Saturday’s Rotherham matchday programme, we this afternoon publish Erik Samuelson’s update on the club’s current financial situation.
Though the FA Cup did provide extra income, Wimbledon's Chief Executive warns that the Dons cannot count on it happening again next season, and the club will need to find ways to generate substantial additional funds.
With Rotherham having recently moved into a new stadium, I’m tempted to write about our similar aspirations, but instead I’m focusing on this season’s financial results.
Two days ago the Dons Trust and AFCW PLC held their annual general meetings. On the agenda was to have been a proposal to offer “associate directorships” on the football club board in return for an annual fee. I am going to concentrate on why we feel we need to come up with ideas like this, rather than on the idea itself.
Last year, you, the fans, confirmed that your top priority is for the club to continue to be fans-owned. This means not having one person or a small group funding the club, so we need to stand on our own two feet. That hasn’t hampered our progress in the ten years since we re-formed, thanks to careful management of our finances, resources and football affairs. But when we came to determine the budget for this season, we saw a gap in our finances. We chose to fill it through a combination of ambitious targets for fundraising and other new sources of income, and to budget for a loss of £50,000. Even then, the playing budget was no more than for last season. We were happy to take the risk that we would not achieve all our financial targets, because last season we made a healthy profit, and we agreed with the DT board that we could, if necessary, use that profit to offset any loss we might end up making this season.
So where are we? Well, thanks to unbudgeted-for FA Cup games and television fees, we will make about £200,000 over and above our very conservative estimate. But attendances are below budget, and so consequently are matchday and bar takings. Also we are well short of our targets for new fundraising, we’ve incurred the cost of terminating Terry and Stuart’s contracts, and because of injuries we’ve spent more on loan players.
What’s the end result? Well, ignoring depreciation, we ought to break even this season. But that is before allocating any additional money to Neal to spend in the January transfer window. We will be OK this season, because we’ve got last season’s profits to fall back on, but we can do that only once. So next season is the major challenge. If we assume we have no cup runs next season, but everything else is much the same, we will be heading for a deficit of £150,000 to £200,000. And remember, that is after providing a playing budget that is one of the lowest in League 2.
How are we going to meet that shortfall? Well, in the medium term we hope to have a stadium more suited to our needs, with a higher capacity and the ability to earn more non-football income. But until then, if we want to stay in League 2 and perhaps challenge for promotion, we need other sources of money. The idea of associate directors might be one way of filling some of the gap; if that isn’t the answer, we need other ideas. We also need to revitalise fundraising and we will be trying again soon to find people to lead initiatives in this area.
Finally, we are looking at other opportunities to raise money. One of them, Bet Butler, has been launched by us as a club. For information, click Dons betting siteon . Bet Butler, the Football League’s official betting partner, claims that it will usually be able to offer better odds than you can find elsewhere. So if you are going to bet, this is arguably the most efficient way to do it. If you use this system the club will get a proportion of your bet, whether you win or lose. So if you bet, even only occasionally, then please consider doing so via Bet Butler and, win or lose, the club will benefit with some new and very welcome income.
I’ll be talking about other aspects of the financial challenges we face in forthcoming programmes and on the official website.