|THE PLAN THIS TIME IS....
(Thursday 27th May 2004)
This is a second part of Chairboys on the Net look at the members meeting that took place on Tuesday 18th May 2004 where summarised proposals were presented of a new structure and future business plan for Wycombe Wanderers Football Club. In the first part we looked in detail at the proposed reconstructure of the Club where the aim was to bring in around £1m of new investment to help fill an alleged £500,000 cash shortfall with the remainder used for the all encompassing phrase "to move the Club forward". In this second part we look at the bare bones of the three year business plan that the Board hope will attract investment and bring their latest vision to reality.
Financial Director Rod Tomlin talked through the basics of the business plan to be sent out to potential investors and other interested parties. After raking up combined losses of around £1.3m in the previous three seasons, this latest plan will attempt to at least break even by incorporating drastic cost cutting measures while also attempting to bring in alternative revenue. Mr Tomlin commented ”We think by introducing a number of changes in the way the Club operates it will be possible to enhance many of our income streams at the same time as containing costs.”
The major cost cutting will come on the football side. The players' wage bill for season 2004/5 will be slashed from £1.56m to just over £1m. Further cuts in management costs and matchday expenses will see close to a total of £1m knocked off the playing side budget. The plan conservatively aims for a mid-table finish in Division Three and relatively early exits from all the cup competitions. The budget assumes that 2,700 season tickets are sold compared to 2,822 in 2003/4 while the average League gate will be factored in as dropping by 400 to around the 4,900 mark. The plan then reverts from consolidation to optimism, with automatic promotion to Division Two predicted at the end of the 2005/6 season with season ticket sales rising close to the 3,600 high they were in 2001/2 by year three.
Key to the success of the business plan will be the level of new investment. The Board are targeting an initial figure of £1.5m new capital into the Club, although the business plan assumes £1.1m. Actual investment has not been guaranteed but Mr Tomlin added “A number of people have indicated that they will invest at a particular level, which encourages us to believe very strongly that we will be close to the target figure.”
If the proposals are passed by members at an EGM on 12th July, the initial ownership of the Club would lie with the 500 £1 founder shareholders plus those loan note holders who wish to convert their loans into £1 shares. The current loan notes total £492,000 of which it's understood that around £370,000 are with current Directors. Any loan notes not converted to shares would be subject to immediate repayment on any reconstruction of the Club.
The initial Board would be made up of current Chairman Ivor Beeks and his Vice Chairman Brian Kane. The Chairman indicated that many of the existing Board would make way for any major new investors, commenting “There are not that many (current Directors) who possibly wish to invest, albeit some already have loan notes and they would possibly convert those into shares.” The Chairman went on to indicate that there were three such major investors pencilled in to join the new Board. It's also likely that an existing Director would be hived off to take on Chief Executive role while COTN understands that at least one of the new Directors could form a major part in attempting to drive the business to consumer markets and the way the Club manages its fanbase. Such positions would attract remuneration packages but would not be "huge" according to Mr Tomlin.
With the football side temporarily downgraded it appears this new new business plan will follow similar thoughts and ambitions portrayed back in August 2000 when a new influx of Directors, including Brian Kane and Rod Tomlin, enthused over their vision of a Wycombe Wanderers Leisure village centered around a four year business plan and £4m investment. Talk at the time also mentioned possible redevelopment of the then newly acquired Training Ground in Booker but this was largely put on hold after a £445,000 injection from OnDigital, £150,000 from Internet sponsorship and over £1m of unbudgeted income from the 2000/1 FA Cup run was eaten up by the general running of the Club.
However, the Board are now keen to get a similar scheme underway at a point where decisions during that four year period have pushed the Club seemingly to the brink of administration. Mr Tomlin commented ”We’ve driven the business sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully into a situation where our resources are limited. The headroom in bank overdraft is severely limited and what we want to try and do is to actually move forward now with the resources that we need to grow the business and develop in the future, not for just the short term cash flow problem."
A further report will look at concerns and reservations expressed by members.
See the story unfold on chairboys.co.uk
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