Perhaps it is now appropriate to evaluate our relationship with our landlords, Glyndŵr University. The lease is the single biggest contract we have signed as a club. It is so huge it dwarfs the contracts awarded to Wilko and all of his players. It will define our future as a club.
The news that Glyndŵr had bought the ground from the asset strippers received a generally positive reception from Wrexham fans.
The prevailing sentiment, at the time, was that at least the ground was free of the clutches of the spivs who owned the club and that the Uni would certainly be a better landlord than Messrs Moss and Roberts.
There were those who felt that a joint bid would have been more appropriate and who is to say they were wrong. It would certainly have given our club more security in the long run.
So the long struggle to save the ground from firstly Hamilton, and latterly Moss, had ended in defeat. We were tenants once again in our own ground and the future seems to be a blank page at this juncture.
The details of the lease agreed with Glyndŵr are yet to be disclosed but what we do know is that most of the existing staff have now moved over to work for the University. That means the ground staff,stewards, gate men and bar staff are no longer employed by the club and responsibility for managing them is now a matter for Glyndŵr. The club pays the college a lump sum for all of this.
Club insiders tell us that the current lease hugely benefits the club and that Prof Scott is a genuine football fan who is a pleasure to deal with. However Prof Scott is nearing retirement and we have no idea who his successor is, or their attitude towards our club.
The down side of all this is that the club have lost the opportunity to make money from catering and hospitality related activities. If you buy a pie and a pint at the ground the profits accrue to Glyndŵr and not the football club. If there is a function at the Centenary Club the football club does not benefit directly. Again the benefits go to the university.
The current deal was signed under a form of duress. It was a Hobson’s choice agreement that the WST had to sign up to and in truth the deal works for us today as we are still a basket-case club in many ways.
But will it be appropriate for the club as we start to recover?
As we start to progress up the leagues we will need every penny we can get.
Glyndŵr’s plans appear to be to develop the ground with grant funding. They will be looking to increase their facilities to enhance their standing as a University. More lecture rooms,better recreational facilities and a better offer to students in a very competitive market. The club should benefit from better spectator facilities with a new stand on the Kop and, eventually, a new Yale and Tech End.
We welcome the current work to bring the pitch up to an acceptable standard and hope that there are service level agreements in place to ensure that it is not allowed to slip back into tundra status.
Given the University’s well-publicised woes we think that this may be the last piece of stadium work for some time. Glyndŵr rely heavily on overseas students in order to balance their books.
Anything which hinders that will cause them some pain.
Already we can see that the huge sum of money required to provide a decent disabled facility is having to be provided without a contribution from Glyndŵr. It is outrageous really. Once again the club will be putting a large sum of money into a stadium that we do not own.
This is a crazy situation. If you live in rented accommodation you do not fit a new conservatory if you could be evicted in the near future.
The uncertainty over the University’s finances might provide an opportunity to improve our longer term security.
Could the lease be renegotiated? Could we, for example, offer a lump sum for a 125 year lease? Or could we be incentivised for using the clubs facilities – profit sharing on functions in the Bamford’s? Both partners would benefit from this.
The University pitch for grant funding will feature the football club heavily and we think that it is important that the club plays a full part in this. It would not be equitable if the Uni used the club to access funding whilst denying the club the benefits of the funding itself.
Any football money invested into the stadium should benefit the club as well as Glyndŵr.
A better lease?
A bar and function room?
Access to the stadium free of the petty restrictions imposed by the College. It is a ridiculous that the WST board still have to meet at the Lager Club because Glyndŵr charge for the use of club facilities.
In truth there is no reason why the club and Uni could not have a happy partnership in the way we did with the brewery for so many years. This would benefit both parties and give supporters of the club some comfort as we try to roll back the years of neglect.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to explore this?
Further coverage in Private Eye magazine.