Crawley fans are wary of their club becoming “an experiment which goes wrong” following a takeover by cryptocurrency investors last week.
WAGMI United announced last Thursday it had bought a controlling stake in the League Two club, after a bid to buy Bradford was rejected last year.
The owners are understood to have met all English Football League requirements but there is apprehension among supporters of Crawley and more widely in football regarding the takeover, with cryptocurrency an unregulated market in the UK.
WAGMI founders Preston Johnson and Eben Smith have promised Crawley fans promotion to League One within two seasons or to stand for re-election as club directors if they fail.
In confirming the takeover, WAGMI said they wanted to “reimagine how professional sports teams are owned and operated”.
Those comments have excited and worried Crawley fans in equal measure.
“That’s great that they want to experiment, and hopefully we go on a wonderful journey and we do get promotions and lots of cup runs and we’re successful,” Sam Jordan, the chair of the club’s Supporters Alliance, told the PA news agency.
“But it’s my football club and I don’t want my football club to be an experiment which goes wrong.
“I’ve been through ownerships which have been fantastic and I’ve been through ownerships which have taken us to the brink of existence. So there’s definitely apprehension.
“What I would say initially they’ve been quite open and transparent. We know who they are, we’ve seen their faces, they’re active on social media, they want to talk to fans, all those things are positive.
“The biggest fear for me, and I’m not massively into cryptocurrency or NFTs, is where is the money going to come from if we don’t succeed with the budgets they’re looking to spend and their experiment doesn’t come off?
“What does that look like for making sure everyone gets paid and we can retain our Football League status?
“It’s fantastic that they want to come in and get promoted in two years. I think when you buy a club everyone says that though. So is that going to happen?
“They’re buying a small club compared to Bradford, they’re two totally different clubs in terms of potential.
“I’m excited at the potential, but there’s apprehension there too that, if it doesn’t go well, what that could mean for the future of the club.”
The new owners are understood to have provided future financial information to the EFL setting out how they will finance the club for the remainder of this season and for the 2022-23 campaign as one of the requirements of the takeover, as well as proving the source and sufficiency of funds in conventional currency.
WAGMI have pledged “unprecedented” transparency and accountability to supporters, and are set to hold an online question and answer session this week.
Jordan, who said the Alliance had contacted the new owners with a view to meeting them when they were next in the country at the end of the month, hopes that will include supporter representation on the new-look board.
“We are interested in talking to them because it’s our football club,” he added.
“Managers and players come and go but fans are always going to be there and it’s really important that we’re comfortable.
“We haven’t got the independent regulator yet, so as fans we weren’t aware of who was buying our football club until the transaction went through.
“Supporters are the lifeblood of a football club. So they should definitely be heavily involved in talks with owners on a daily or weekly basis about what the future looks like.
“We would like to have a seat on the board, that can convey the fans’ opinions. It will be one of the questions we ask, whether we can have that.”