A Merry Christmas to all Wimbledon fans and Dons Trust members, with a special thank you to everyone who has taken part in the fans’ survey already.
We are delighted to say that excellent progress has been made with regard to funding options for Plough Lane that we believe and hope will enable the Dons Trust to maintain control of the club and to keep the fan-owned ethos of our football club intact.
Broadly speaking this splits into two halves – which will be combined to provide the £11m of funding required. The first half will come from the Plough Lane Bond, with the remainder provided from commercial and institutional lending. To provide the latter we have been working on extending the funding sourcing committee to explore a variety of funding options and draw more widely from Wimbledon fans and colleagues who work in different sectors of finance. We are extremely grateful to the many people who have provided their time and expertise so readily in the run-up to Christmas to make such good progress.
First, the Plough Lane Bond will be launched in the New Year. We have been working closely with the Dons Trust and the club and are currently making good progress on the legal framework and administration requirements.
So far more than £3.5 million has been pledged, at an average interest rate of below 2%,with over a quarter of applications offering to provide loans at zero interest. These responses are fantastic news as the more than can be borrowed for the Bond at lower rates from fans and individuals, the better the deals the club will be able to secure for commercial and other lending options to make up the remainder of the £11m required.
Exact details of the Bond will follow but for now we would urge any fans who have not yet done so to participate in the survey and to circulate it to anyone else who might be interested. And for people who have already answered – we hope to be in a position to finalise paperwork and require transfer of funds soon in January 2020.
With regard to the other half of the funding, after meetings with the club, stadium funding group and discussions with further finance professionals among the fanbase, we are confident that short and medium term funding routes are available to provide more affordable options to facilitate the stadium construction. It will then be further possible shortly afterwards to look at refinancing routes so that repayment rates fit within the parameters of the club’s business plan for operating Plough Lane.
Clearly this is a very fluid situation, but meetings before Christmas have opened up some new possibilities and made progress in approaches in areas of the market that had not been previously exhausted. Several fans and finance professionals have contributed to this process already and are continuing to do so. We remain delighted to set up more conversations with anyone else from a commercial or institutional finance and funding background.
Meanwhile, the updated agreement with Buckingham, as discussed by Mark Davis and reported by the press means that work on the site will be continuing on track for autumn completion. This should gives us enough time to process bond and commercial financing to ensure everything is in place before final paperwork and proof of funding is required at the end of February.
We would also note that it’s been very clear throughout our surveys and discussions that there is an appetite among large sections of the fanbase and membership to pursue models which allow for minority investment in the future. We believe that once this immediate funding issue has been resolved, debates and consideration can and should take place to explore and choose club and Trust models that allow for outside investment without losing the core principle of being fan-owned and controlled.
There is a lot of work left to do but after a productive few weeks since the issues around funding were made apparent, we are confident solutions can and will be found. We believe that 2020 should see the completion of another amazing chapter in our club’s story as we finally Bring the Dons Home.
Happy New Year.