To the supporters, staff, players, friends, and family of Wrexham AFC,
The frustration of missing out on the National League Play-Offs on the final day when having matters in our own hands at the start of the game was only surpassed by the fact that we haven’t been able to get to Wrexham in person to visit the Club, see a game or start to integrate ourselves fully into the Community.
That is a pleasure delayed for us and we appreciate that you want to be back inside the Racecourse Ground as well. The good news is we want you there too! It appears the roadmap out of the restrictions created by the Covid-19 pandemic will permit this to happen for the start of the season. Let’s just hope we can soon solely concentrate on being social rather than socially distanced.
We thought with our imposed absence, it was an appropriate time to give you an update on the progress we have made since our takeover of the Club was confirmed on the 9th February and our aspirations for the 2021/22 season.
Many questioned our target of turning the Club into a ‘Global Force’ but we are fully committed to giving it a go - good times are on the way back, enjoy the ride with us.
Finally, for now, we would like to place on record our thanks to everyone who has made us feel so welcome and those who have played a part in our journey to date
Rob & Ryan
When our takeover was completed, we issued our mission statement, so fans of the Club could hold us to account. We took this step as we view ourselves as custodians of the Club rather than owners and as such, wanted this increased level of accountability and to build your trust in us.
Our goal is to grow the team, return it to the EFL in front of increased attendances at an improved stadium while making a positive difference to the wider community in Wrexham.
This goal remains as true today as it did when we took over the Club and the guiding principles continue to define our approach.
In the mission statement we made a series of commitments (Hard Promises) and the update below, highlights both the progress we have made and what we have planned for the 2021/22 season.
ON THE PITCH
We committed to provide financial support for the Manager to create a sustainable model for the future that enabled us to attract the best players and staff to the Racecourse Ground.
As we mentioned earlier, we fell just short of the National League Play-Offs and we decided that as well as Dean Keates had done in what at times were challenging circumstances, our best chance of achieving our goal of gaining promotion to the EFL was served by seeking a new Manager / Head Coach for 2021/22 season.
We did what we could to improve the squad but were handicapped by the closure of the transfer window before the takeover completed. The arrival of Dior Angus and Tyler French gave us a boost, as did the addition of 4 non-contract players to supplement the squad over the closing games.
The new bonus scheme was well received by the players / coaching staff, and we would have been delighted to pay-out the £250,000 if we had have achieved promotion.
2021/22 Season & beyond
We have recruited Les Reed as an advisor to create a football strategy for the Club that will deliver the sustainable model, we committed to create.
The search for a new Manager / Head Coach is a fundamental part of the strategy and is our immediate priority.
Terms have been offered to several of the existing squad who will be joined by new signings to give the Club the best chance of success. The playing budget will be consistent with that of a Club that wants to achieve promotion.
The resources, both physical and human will be provided where possible to help achieve our goal of achieving promotion at the earliest possible opportunity.
The football strategy will not just be limited to the First Team, it will also include the Centre of Excellence and our Women’s & Girls teams.
THE RACECOURSE GROUND
The commitment was to explore the renovation of the Racecourse Ground and improve the venue for the Club, for international matches and perhaps the occasional Tom Jones gig.
The Racecourse Ground, like many other stadiums in the UK remained largely empty devoid of the one thing that can bring it to life – fans!
We used the time to understand what could be realistically achieved to improve the matchday experience. The significant change was the installation of a LED perimeter advertising system that will provide enhanced commercial opportunities, as well as improving the appearance of the stadium to those viewing the game on our stream / TV.
The pitch and surrounding areas are now about to undergo significant works to be ready for next season. The grassed area is going to be extended towards the Kop as part of these works to make the playing area capable of hosting other sports better than we can do currently.
2021/22 Season & beyond
The refurbishment of spectator facilities in the Mold Road and Yale Stands, is underway. The works are relatively limited in their scope but will vastly improve the matchday experience for those using these two areas. More significant works are being contemplated for the season after but are inextricably linked to progress on the redevelopment plans for the Kop.
It is envisaged that significant changes will be made in the WrexRent stand for those who prefer a view from behind the goal. The final plans are being confirmed and we are working to a tight programme with our Architects, AFL but are convinced the changes will be well received.
The Club has been welcomed into the conversations about the Gateway Project and the partners have recognised the importance of a redeveloped Kop to our long-term prospects of creating a sustainable business model to support our ambitions. We have started the preliminary design work and will shortly be undertaking some fan research to ensure that what is built reflects, where possible, the desires of those that will use it.
An application for public sector funding support has been made by the Council and we have agreed to make a significant financial contribution to make it happen, which would also see the return of the freehold of the Racecourse Ground to the Club’s ownership.
Our ambition is to see the Racecourse Ground as the preferred venue in North Wales for hosting International Sporting and other events. Conversations in this regard have already commenced with the FA of Wales with others due to follow. We believe ‘preferred’ should also mean more often.
The only drawback with these development plans, is that the close season is a vital time for the works to take place, so Tom Jones and others may have to wait a little longer to make an appearance.
The food & beverage offer throughout the stadium is also being reviewed as part of improving the matchday experience and the newly refurbished shop should be back in use during June.
We undertook to invest in a permanent training facility worthy of an EFL Club.
The need to find a long-term solution to where the Club players train was highlighted by the constant search for venues on a weekly basis for all the Clubs teams that is only going to get harder as Covid-19 imposed restrictions are removed and our requirements increase. We would like to thank all those venues and their staff who accommodated our requirements, often at short notice.
2021/22 Season & beyond
Our investment in this area to date is not financial but time spent.
We have identified one potential site for a permanent training facility in the local area and the search continues. We believe we need a site in excess of 22 acres to ensure that it meets both our current and future requirements. This work will continue during the season.
For next season we are hoping to be able to use Colliers Park on a more regular basis and supplement this when required.
We pledged to respect the heritage of the Club and maintain respectful observance of the Gresford Colliery Disaster.
We remain committed to all aspects of the Clubs heritage and are not contemplating any changes to that position.
The use of the Club’s crest will be regulated more than has occurred previously and we are committed to ensuring that the correct crest is used by those who utilise it.
Respectful observance of the Gresford Colliery Disaster will be achieved by the inclusion of 1934 on the nape of the home shirt for the 2021/22 season.
FANS AND CONSULTATION
We have consistently recognised the role of the WST in keeping the Club in business for the benefit of the local community before the takeover and while decisions will no longer be made by committee, the views of the wider fanbase would always be considered, whenever possible.
Dixie McNeil will continue in the role of Honorary President of the Club.
In recognition of the part that the Board appointed by the WST played in securing our takeover, we have decided to offer the opportunity of becoming a Vice President to Spencer Harris, Gavin Jones, Phil Salmon and Mark Williams.
The plans for the new ‘Club Advisory Board’ have been formulated and this will be in place for the 2021/22 season. The Board will be drawn from a full cross section of the fan base, so it is not dominated by any one group. This will further enhance our commitment to be transparent with regard to decision making and open communication.
Ticket prices for 2021/22 have not been increased and in the case of the majority of season ticket prices, reduced, despite the expenditure commitments made by the Club, to reward those who stuck by the Club before the takeover and attract new fans. We were able to make this decision based on the increased commercial revenue we have been able to generate while delivering against our commitment to implement a sustainable business model.
The new Club Membership Scheme has 18,226 individuals signed up from 78 Countries. The membership scheme will be opened again for subscriptions before the 2021/22 season starts. Each of the members will receive a monthly newsletter from the Club.
For those fans who are not regular users of social media or electronic forms of communication, Executive Director, Humphrey Ker writes a regular column in the Leader, each Thursday to keep fans up to date with the Club news.
We identified the Club’s current staff would need additional support to maximise the increased interest in the Wrexham AFC.
The Club’s new CEO, Fleur Robinson commenced work at the start of June and will lead the Club’s staff, making recommendations to the Board as to where additional support is required.
In the interim period, we have relied heavily on our Advisors to provide the guidance required and have been pleased to read that the decisions made to date have all been well received. We still have lots to do but feel we have a far more solid base to build on.
No non-footballing members of staff have left the Club since the takeover.
RACECOURSE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
We recognised from the outset that the Club was already very active in the community, hence our commitment to reinforce this work with additional support.
The Trustees of the Foundation have approved a change of name to the Wrexham AFC Community Trust. The legal requirements to put this in place are now underway.
The Trust will be the Clubs Corporate Social Responsibility (‘CSR’) delivery vehicle and will be asked to deliver a wider brief than asked of it currently as we look to impact other areas of the community such as ‘Arts & Culture’ without losing our focus on using football as a vehicle for positive change.
Our financial support to further develop Women’s and Girls football at the Club, gave Gemma Owen & Steve Dale the momentum to achieve Tier 2 status for our Women’s team. This was great news and provides us with the opportunity to make progress from a higher starting point.
The work of Kerry Evans still amazes us, and we were delighted to fund the purchase of powerchairs for our new team, to ensure that we make football available to all. The additional wheelchair platform which had been discussed for a long time, will be delivered as part of our redevelopment work.
Part of our evaluation work over the last 4 months has focussed on identifying what type of facilities would allow us to make the biggest positive difference for the benefit of the community. This work is ongoing.
We committed to become a more ecologically sustainable version of the Club and stadium.
Every decision that is taken at the Club always considers this commitment and is implemented wherever practically possible.
Outside the above-mentioned topics, the following changes are anticipated in time for the start or during the 2021/22 season:
- New online shop
- New website
- Further enhancement of streaming service (when allowed)
- New Shirt sponsors
- New Commercial partners
- New Ticketing System