Wednesday, 2 November 2011

It's the little things that count

Franchise customers will maintain their delusions about the state of 'their' club no matter what the facts are, but sometimes even the smallest piece of information can tell you what's really going on. Take this little snippet from a piece that is ostensibly, at first, nothing to do with Franchise:

 "Striker Sam Baldock, who has scored four goals in his last four games, will again start against the Championship's bottom club tonight and Allardyce said: "I went to watch him after a phonecall from the MK Dons manager, Karl Robinson. He told me he had a good striker at the club but that they needed to sell him to get some money in.""

In just one little quote, a great deal is revealed. Not only did Franchise have to sell the player, but it's the manager doing the selling! Now, bear in mind that virtually none of the £2m-plus received for Baldock went on a replacement. The message is clear - the only way Franchise now has of surviving is by selling players. The supermarket money is gone, there are no more property deal subsidies and the bank loan can't continue indefinitely. What we have here is the clearest admission yet (on top of Winkelman's comments about sustainability that the Franchise experiment is still very much in the balance financially.

Thanks Sam. Winkelman has been desperate not to publicise just how bad things are for Franchise FC, but 'Big Sam' has just let a rather scary cat out of the bag. Franchise FC will probably survive, much as Wimbledon FC would have if Winkelman hadn't poached it to MK, but it's increasingly clear they will have to keep finding players to sell just to stay alive.

And why do I bring all this up? Because, of course, it is the difficult state of Wimbledon FC's finances that were used to leverage the franchising move. Yet here we have Franchise FC in precisely the same situation - crowds too low to sustain the team at the level it's at, costs too high for a team that doesn't own its stadium and a business only kept going by player sales. Wimbledon FC survived that way for many years and could have continued to do so but for Winkelman's intervention. Will Winkelman be able to achieve as much? If not, both he and Franchise FC are set to receive zero sympathy having stolen another community's club using exactly the same situation as an excuse.

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