English League One football club AFC Wimbledon is reportedly looking to raise £1m ($1.3m/€1.1m) through its new seat debenture scheme, which kicked off today.
The cash injection will help to support the club during a time of economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the 10-year debentures costing around £500 to £600 each. The club said, according to the Evening Standard, that the £1m will support a basic playing budget and other essential operations for the 2020-21 season.
Supporters will gain first access to use a particular seat throughout the decade, and will also receive discounts on their season tickets through the initiative.
The club have also said holders will get 11 seasons for the price of 10 as the uncertainty over next season means it will not count as one of the 10-years on the debenture.
AFC Wimbledon has today opened the reservation stage for Priority Group 1, who have held a season ticket for eight or more years or are club volunteers from last season.
It will then open to different groups over the next month, with the current stage to run through to August 20. The second group is for 2019-20 season ticket holders who have held a pass for seven or fewer years, while the third group is opened up to all season ticket holders.
Group four, which kicks off on September 12, will allow season ticket holders, Dons Trust members, PLC Shareholders, Seedrs investors, and Bond Holders to purchase a debenture.
The club said in a statement: “What we are trying to do with ticketing has never been attempted before and we have had to make considerable technical changes to our new platform to be able to create the system we want to provide for you.”
Due to COVID-19, all matches at the start of the 2020-21 season are due to be played behind closed doors, and debenture holders will get a free cardboard cut out of themselves to represent them in the stadium until fans return.
The club has recently been granted provisional approval on safe standing in the South Stand of its new stadium at Plough Lane, though it is still subject to approval of designs and spec by the Sports Ground Safety Authority and Football Stadia Improvement Fund. Debenture holders who have season tickets in these stands will be assigned an area, rather than an individual seat, that they have priority to pick from.
The club’s planned new stadium had been targeted to open ahead of the 2020-21 season. AFC Wimbledon is seeking to return to Plough Lane in south-west London, about 250 yards from where the club’s original incarnation played until 1991.
Last month, AFC Wimbledon completed the financing of its planned new stadium, which will have a capacity of 9,000.
In another financial boost for the League One side, less than five per cent of season ticket holders requested a refund after the 2019-20 campaign was ended due to COVID-19.
Image: AFC Wimbledon