Loan provides ‘The Dons’ their ‘phew’ moment



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AFC Wimbledon update July 2020 Image: AFC Wimbledon

English Football League (EFL) League One club AFC Wimbledon can start work on its new facility as it has secured a £4 million loan. This has come as a huge relief for ‘The Dons’ who were battling huge financial constraints.

AFC Wimbledon has struck the deal with MSP Capital, a property finance firm based in Dorset, UK. The loan is a short-term, 18-month bridging loan of £4 million (plus a further allowance for fees and rolled-up interest). This will be secured against the new stadium and guaranteed by AFCW PLC.

Coronavirus outbreak had led to the costs spiralling but ‘The Dons’ have allayed fears by securing the MSP Capital bridging loan.

AFC Wimbledon is an English professional football club, based in Merton, London, which has played in League One, the third tier of the English football league system, since winning promotion in 2016. The club’s home stadium is Plough Lane.

AFC Wimbledon Chief Executive Joe Palmer maintained, “We don’t have to borrow all of it – it’s a facility that we can draw down in stages. In fact, it’s very much in our interests to carry on raising funds via our Plough Lane Bond, or via equity, and reduce the need to draw down on the loan.”

“I must stress the loan is solely for stadium work. Money will only be released against invoices clearly relevant to the construction project. Under no circumstances can any funds be transferred to other areas – like, for example, the playing budget,” Palmer added.

“There’s no doubt this has removed a major headache for the club. We can now divert our attentions back to the forthcoming season and preparing for the intensely uncertain, post-COVID world we are all facing,” he further observed.

“This unquestionably presents a whole new series of challenges but we can take comfort from knowing the stadium project has the funding it needs to reach completion. To say I am proud of what we have achieved is almost an understatement. This is a triumph for absolutely everybody at our club, and – of course – for the thousands of our fans who raised over £7.5million via the Plough Lane Bond and crowdfunding campaign. The words ‘thank you’ barely seems adequate,” Palmer maintained.

“Once again, I am reminded just how special our club is – from the backroom team which has secured this loan, to all the extraordinary supporters who invest not just their money, but their hearts and souls, into everything we do and believe in,” the top shot affirmed.

The club was in need of funds to make up an £11 million shortfall to move into their new 9,300-seater home – Plough Lane – the price tag of which is £30 million in total.

Plough Lane is a stadium in Wimbledon, southwest London, which is currently under construction as of March 2020. Once built, it will be the home of AFC Wimbledon.

The Dons’ were able to raise funds through crowdfunding campaign and also through the Plough Lane Bond they raised £7.5 million. Local businessman Nick Robertson also invested £2.5 million.

Designed by KSS and being built by Buckingham Group, AFC Wimbledon’s new home will enjoy its own pub which will be open seven days a week and which the local community can use during normal licensing hours; a fan zone, to which one can get access from all stands, so fans can meet before, during and after games, no matter where they sit; the largest conferencing suite in the borough – capable of fitting in 500 guests; a museum charting the history of the club with tours available for the wider community; and a 9,000 capacity which can eventually expand to 20,000 by connecting all four corners to create a dramatic bowl-shaped arena.

Andy Simons, Founding Director, KSS, UK, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The main West Stand will comprise four tiers (including the ground floor), and will boast media facilities, camera gantries and 12 glass-fronted executive boxes looking down on to the pitch. The players’ tunnel will lead out from the center of the stand and, flanked by the managers’ technical areas on either side.

For supporters who do not want to hang out in the fans’ zone, there will be food concessions and bar kiosks scattered throughout at their service, and there’ll be a greatly-expanded club shop packed with souvenirs and mementos.

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