At the start of a new year it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the year just passed and 2016 was a year of significant change and challenges for Wrexham AFC. Whilst it has been a relatively disappointing twelve months on the pitch we go into 2017 with a renewed sense of optimism that comes from the changes at the top of the football club with Manager Dean Keates at the forefront of that change. A warrior on the pitch for Wrexham AFC, the early weeks of his tenure indicate there is every reason to believe that he will become equally as effective in the dugout and return us back to the top end of the table. We will back Dean in January as we look to bolster the squad and bring in players to help the squad move up the table and provide an entertaining second half to the season as we lay the foundations for a successful 2017/18 season.
This week we are going to run a series of articles updating you on the progress the football club is making under fans ownership and giving you a further insight into how your club has changed during the year and the work your representatives have undertaken as we strive to achieve our ultimate aim which is to successfully challenge at the top of the table and to return to the Football League whilst ensuring the Club remains sustainable and prospers. Make no mistake everything we do is to achieve that aim and, whilst we know we don’t always get everything right, we are focused on the need to continuously improve. We remain convinced that with everyone pulling together and a fair wind, we can achieve our goal.
Focus article 1 - My Racecourse
The most important achievement in 2016 for Wrexham AFC was to regain control of the Racecourse Ground and the business running within it. On behalf of you the fans we became effective owners of the stadium negotiating a 99 year lease and TUPE transferring the employees from Glyndwr University to the Football Club. This was a significant body of work this year and will set us up for success in years to come. The negotiations were long and complex with both the commercial and ground license agreements under discussion and included the following changes for the football club:
- Transfer of all stadium operations and staff to Wrexham AFC;
- Premises alcohol license transferred to Wrexham AFC;
- Wrexham AFC to arrange a new brewery contract;
- Ability to make capital payments to reduce the rent for the residue of the term based on a value of £1.35m being retained throughout the term of the lease;
- Wrexham AFC to have responsibility for all statutory compliance and carrying out any and all works associated with compliance with the stadium safety certificate.
It is important to say that due to the nature of our ownership model ALL of the primary negotiation and legal support for such a complex deal was secured at ZERO cost to the football club by people whose only intention is to see it prosper with the knowledge and skill to undertake this on your behalf. The costs involved in such as complex deal would have been significant had the football club not had that free resource to act on your behalf. Of course specialist advice was sought in technical and legal due diligence to underpin this expertise and ensure the best possible deal was achieved utilizing specialists such as GVA Bowfinger. However this is just one of the ways in which we benefit from fans ownership and save the club money that would need to be funded from elsewhere in any other form of ownership.
Having only taken control of the Stadium on 1st August we have moved quickly on your behalf to start to make it work for the football club rebranding the stadium as MyRacecourse or in Welsh ‘Nghae Ras i to broaden the appeal beyond a football matchday. This has taken hold quickly as a brand and the iconic shape of the Mold Road Stand looking like the tail of Wrex the Dragon above the wording is recognizable across North Wales already. In addition within just three months of our ownership we had sourced, negotiated and announced two summer concerts with acts of international renown in UB40 and the chart topping Olly Murs. The ticket sales have been brisk and we expect to see a sold out stadium for at least one of the two events. Again all of the knowledge required of the music industry has been secured from within our extensive membership and body of expertise that makes up the Wrexham Supporters Trust to support the board in making the right contacts and securing the best deal for the football club. There are also other plans to make use of the Racecourse during the summer of 2017 so watch this space for more exciting news to be revealed as we go through the early part of the year.
In addition under the leadership of Stadium Manager Phil Bennett we have:
- Worked to change our matchday food offering and gone to more local suppliers and have the iconic Village Bakery as a pie supplier for the stadium on matchday a signing which has been universally applauded by fans
- Negotiated a new brewery contract and launched our very own My Racecourse lager
- Opened Jonesy’s bar under the GUS Stand with the support of DMR (North Wales) Ltd a local building firm based on the Five Crosses Industrial Estate in Minera. Another example of the goodwill and benefits of fans ownership DMR carried out the works as well as supplying all the materials at no cost to the Football Club
- We have launched our new website www.myracecourse.com to manage new bookings and are starting to gain traction and get enquiries from local businesses to use the iconic venue on a frequent non matchday basis to drive new revenue for the stadium
- Up graded CCTV in the GUS and the MRS
- Installed fire detection under the GUS
- Retained our 5 star food hygiene rating
The Centenary Club is gaining a reputation for being a top venue for events and Gigs including the Strawberries and the Cotton Club reunion events that have been incredibly popular in the last 12 months. In addition there are along some great diary dates upcoming such as:
- Lucy Spraggan with Focus Wales
- Real Ale Festival
There is far more to come from ‘My Racecourse’ as our committed team look to develop it as a venue in the years to come. Look out for the other articles highlighting the progress we are making over the course of this week.
The Boards of the Wrexham Supporters Trust and Wrexham AFC would like to wish everyone associated with Wrexham AFC a very happy and prosperous new year!