AFC Wimbledon is crowdfunding to raise investment that will ensure the stadium we move into at Plough Lane next Summer is the best one possible. We all want to enjoy watching our team in outstanding surroundings back in Merton, which is why it’s so important that each of us plays our part.
In this article we provide more information on the crowdfunding project and answer some of the questions that we know many of you have.
How much money are we raising?
- We intend to raise £13m altogether, but not all of this will be from crowdfunding: it will come from a mixture of a bank loan and crowdfunding (which involves issuing more shares in AFCW PLC). Raising £13m will buy us a stadium that supports a competitive League One budget and gives us community facilities that will embed us in the heart of Merton.
- However, if we have to borrow the full amount of the loan that we have applied for (we have applied for more than we hope we will need in order to keep our options open at this stage), the repayments and interest charges could compromise a competitive playing budget. It would also be likely that we’d need to raise more money in the future by issuing more shares in order to repay a chunk of the loan and reduce the repayments.
- So we want to raise as much through the crowdfunding as we can right now. The rules allow us to raise £7m of crowdfunding so that’s what we’re aiming for – while still retaining the Dons Trust’s 75% control of the club.
Why do we need to raise so much?
- We recognise that £13m is higher than we previously thought. Back in 2015, when we got permission to sell the Cherry Red Records Stadium, we thought we would need to raise a further £3m–7m.
- Why has it gone up?
- The stadium design has evolved and improved since then – we will have a stadium we are confident we can operate successfully and which will generate commercial revenues to make us sustainable.
- The project was delayed for reasons beyond our control, and during these delays inflation pushed up construction costs.
- There were unforeseen costs – additional earthworks have been needed to create a platform on which we can build the new stadium.
- As the design for the West Stand evolved, it became apparent we needed to strengthen the structure – this requires additional costly steel and more extensive foundations.
Can we realistically raise £7m of shares? Why would people want to buy?
- We recognise £7m is a lot of money – equivalent to around £2,300 per current season ticket holder or £300 for every one of the 23,000 fans that attended the Wembley play off final.
- That’s why we’re working with crowdfunding platform Seedrs to extend our reach beyond our fanbase.
- AFC Wimbledon has a positive and unique story that we believe many people will want to help to its next chapter: returning home to Merton. When we launch the crowdfunding phase, we will be offering incentives for investment that we hope will make getting involved even more attractive. (These incentives will be available to everyone who takes part, whether or not they are an AFC Wimbledon fan.)
- We are also talking to a range of other people in advance who are considering investing substantial amounts of money to underpin the crowdfunding – all while accepting the club’s fan-owned basis.
- However, if AFC Wimbledon supporters want to see us in a new and sustainable stadium, we need as many people as possible to get involved in the crowdfunding project – and to spread the word.
Who are Seedrs?
Our crowdfunding partner for this project is Seedrs, the first share-issuing crowdfunding platform to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Investors are invited to review investment opportunities like ours on Seedrs’ online platform. Any investor can participate, investing from a minimum of £10.
Paperwork and payments are fully digitised. To participate you will need to set up a Seedrs account of your own – it’s free and easy to do so.
So, what do I do next?
When the crowdfunding launches later this month, there will be a week when it will be available purely for AFC Wimbledon supporters and Dons’ Trust members, before it is opened to the public. To ensure you are included in that private phase, we would urge you to pre-register your interest now. Visit, here: dons.seedrs.com. It doesn’t commit you to anything, or cost you, anything, to pre-register at this stage.
Investing in private businesses involves risks, including loss of capital, illiquidity, lack of dividends and dilution, and it should be done only as part of a diversified portfolio. Seedrs is targeted solely at investors who are sufficiently sophisticated to understand these risks and make their own investment decisions. This message has been approved as a financial promotion by Seedrs Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
What if we can’t raise that much?
- There are some options for cutting back a bit on what we build, within the design we’ve been given.
- If we raise £10m of funding in total, that just about buys us the bare minimum we can build.
- But it would compromise the commercial revenues we’ll generate and therefore the playing budget. It would also compromise the fan and community experience.
- We’re taking a responsible approach by preserving those options. But we don’t want to be in the position of having to make those difficult choices, so please take part in the crowdfunding.
Questions about crowdfunding
Q: What is crowdfunding?
A: Quite simply, a way of raising money that doesn’t come from banks.
Q: How does it work?
A: You simply open an account with Seedrs - which is free and easy to do - and then invest as much as you want to buy the shares.
Q: What’s the minimum and the maximum I can invest?
A: The minimum investment level is £10. There is no maximum!
Q: I want to help my club, but are there any extra rewards for buying shares?
A: Yes there are. Every single shareholder is vitally important to us, which is why we want to put your name - as a basic minimum right - on to this project.
Q: Could one individual end up owning our club because of this?
A: No. Never. Seventy five per cent of the club will still be held by our current shareholders and the Dons’ Trust. AFC Wimbledon will remain safely in your hands.
Q: What happens if Seedrs gets taken over, or struggles to survive themselves?
A: Your stake remains safe. As an FCA regulated company Seedrs has processes and plans in place to protect your shareholding.
Q: Why is the pre-registration phase so important?
A: We need to gauge the level of interest. Seedrs have to work out a minimum amount they realistically think we can raise - but, hopefully, we’ll get more.
Q: How do I pay for my investment?
A: You can pay for your investment using a debit card or a bank transfer. All funds are held in escrow by Seedrs until the final investment is made in to the company at the end of the campaign. To find out more about making investments on Seedrs, take a look at these guides.
Q: What if we don’t hit any of the targets?
A: Quite frankly, the dream we’ve all been working so hard for - now so close to reality - could be seriously jeopardised. Our future is in your hands.
Q: So what do I do now?
A: Before the crowdfunding project is opened to the public, there will be an exclusive week when it’s only available for fans and Dons Trust members. To enter this private stage, pre-register now via the website: dons.seedrs.com
Pre-registering won’t commit you to anything and there’s no cost involved.