BY RICHARD CAWLEY
AFC Wimbledon expect to move up the League One budget table this season – with chief executive Erik Samuelson admitting the minimum target is being established at this level when they move to the new stadium in Plough Lane.
The Dons are hoping that work clearing the site – which is not being carried out by a company or timescale under their control – will be completed by October.
That would give the club a chance to have the stadium finished by the end of 2019.
Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley has been busy in the market this summer as he has snapped up Dover winger Mitch Pinnock, Sheffield United striker James Hanson and Wigan centre-back Terrell Thomas.
Anthony Wordsworth and Scott Wagstaff were free agents after leaving Southend and Gillingham respectively.
“We work to an overall budget and within that we can choose if we want to see aside some money for transfer fees,” said Samuelson, “This year we have been more conscious of setting that aside.
“We have increased the budget again this year. We won’t know until later in the year [about the outlay of other clubs], but we still expect to be more than halfway down the table in terms of spending on wages.”
So does that extra investment raise the bar about what is a successful season for the Dons?
“There is a minimum objective – we want to enter our new Plough Lane stadium comfortably established as a League One team,” said Samuelson. “While that doesn’t seem particularly ambitious, that would be fine.
“We want to be on an upward curve as we go to Plough Lane, not a downward curve. Season on season we have to be getting demonstrably better.
“Some of the other objectives have been talked about – such as having a younger team with a bit more pace.
“It is not that we must finish fifth, sixth or seventh. We want consistent improvement year on year, having a younger team which is more dynamic and building for the future.”
If Wimbledon’s building schedule is on time then it will be finished around five months into the season.
It throws up the possibility of a mid-campaign move.
“There would be a decision to be made but we’d also need to clear it with the league,” said Samuelson. “It is relatively unusual but it has been done, there are precedents.
“But let’s get the building started before we think about things like that.”
Wimbledon have two friendlies this weekend. Tonight they go to Havant & Waterlooville (7.45pm) before a trip to Meadow Park on Saturday to face Boreham Wood (3pm).
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.