BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Glyn Hodges will put his faith in AFC Wimbledon’s fans to make the right call on the club’s new stadium – and will have no gripes even if it ends up cutting his playing budget.
The League One club have a shortfall of £11million to complete their new home in Plough Lane – blaming the huge hike on unforeseen planning delays and increased building costs.
The Dons’ Trust will hold a meeting on December 9 to debate the options open to them.
One is to borrow the money, but the club put out a statement this week which said it would leave them with a playing budget “barely capable of surviving in League Two” – if in fact they can even get a loan.
Only the main West Stand could be built but that would deprive the Dons of other significant revenue streams like conference and banqueting.
A third scenario is that private investors come on board who would expect a big say over how the club is run and leave the Dons Trust with a significantly smaller stake.
Hodges said: “My thoughts are that we trust the fans to make the decision.
“Look how far we have come since the rebirth of the club – the fans have got us to League One with some good decision-making, so you have got to take your hat off to them.
“I’m not informed enough to have a valid opinion [on which option is best]. It is going to affect the fans and it is a fans’ club. They’ll make the decision and I’ll abide by whatever way they go.
“We’ve got to keep producing performances and building the team so it is going to be worthy of any options that are viable. We’ve got to fill the stadium and make sure that we’re attractive.”
Hodges is not expecting any serious funds to be available in the January window – with the big question mark being whether any of their five loan signings are recalled.
Keeper Nathan Trott is on loan from West Ham. The east Londoners have had a torrid time since Lukas Fabianski got injured with back-up stopper Roberto heavily criticised for his displays.
Brentford blocked striker Marcus Forss from playing in the FA Cup, perhaps suggesting that the Finnish U21 international could be brought back to Griffin Park at the start of 2020.
“We haven’t got any announcements to make yet but we’re talking to clubs and the boys,” said Hodges. “That’s normal, we’ve got to find out if they are not going to stay as we would have to replace them. There are some breaks in the loans – we’ve got five of them to discuss. That’s the number one priority and we’ll work forward from there.
“I don’t think there will be too much [money for signings]. We are not complaining about that. Everybody wants more budget and to bring more players in but this means that we have to work with the players we’ve got – to improve and develop them.
“We’ll do our best in whatever scenario we find ourselves.”
Hodges is not declaring Will Nightingale’s campaign over despite the captain having hip surgery last week. The 24-year-old centre-back has featured 10 times this season.
“I’ve heard it could be three or four months and that means he could be back by March time, he could be fit for the run in.
“It’s how hard he works and also the type of healer he is that can quicken the process up.
“I’ve not written Will off [for the season] and I hope he hasn’t either.
“If he is back available to us for the last few games or months he can help make sure that we finish off with a bit of impetus.”
Wimbledon do not have a match this weekend.
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