Share issue will help AFC Wimbledon raise funds needed for Plough Lane stadium build

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

AFC Wimbledon chief executive Erik Samuelson has revealed that part of the funding for the new stadium will come from a share issue.

The Dons are set to move back to Plough Lane for the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

Samuelson, writing in the matchday programme, said: “One of the important elements of financing our new stadium is a proposed crowdfunding.

“In our case, crowdfunding has come to mean an issue of shares in AFCW PLC, which owns the club and owns The Wider Interests of Football Limited, the company that will own the new stadium.

“We have issued shares before, back in 2003, when we raised a substantial sum towards the cost of buying our current home.

“What would be different about a share issue this time? Well, first of all, this time investors would be buying shares in an established company, with a good track record both on and off the pitch.

“Second, the underlying value of shares in an EFL club with a new stadium in the offing is also much higher than for a non-league club that has been in existence for only a year and is in a league five levels below League Two.

“We think the proposition is far more attractive to third parties than it was 16 years ago, at the time of the previous share issue.

“In order to raise a substantial sum of money, we need to look outside the fanbase – and we will be actively doing so.

“Obviously there needs to be safeguards to ensure that the club remains in the ownership of the fans. We were very aware of this question in 2003, when we first issued shares in the PLC, so we set up the company in such a way that the Dons Trust would retain 75 per cent plus one of the votes in the PLC. This percentage is very important.

“If any one shareholder or a group of shareholders commands 25 per cent or more of the votes, then they can stop important resolutions from being passed.

“After the first share issue, the Dons Trust owned comfortably over 75 per cent of the votes, and in subsequent years that proportion has crept up to well over 90 per cent.

“With any new share issue, there will be the same proviso that the Trust’s shareholding in the PLC must remain above 75 per cent.

“Some years ago the Dons Trust board anticipated this sort of proposal and created a form of protection which is designed to prevent the club or stadium from being sold off without due consideration and a very thorough democratic process.”

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