So Wasps are to be sold and the union between a London rugby club and a regional football club sitting on the edge of the Chiltern's is nearly over. Looking back at the relationship is something that will only really come to light once both sides have separated but what does this mean for the immediate future of the Chairboys?
The answer at this moment is not a lot.
Although the announcement is big news it will have very little effect on the either club until the two sides separate and the chances of this happening seems unlikely. In a difficult economic climate, Wasps are not the most lucrative asset at this point making an annual loss of between 2 and 3 million and obviously no permanent stadium. Being unsuccessful in the league and fielding few outstanding players may also put off potential buyers. These factors are likely to draw out the sale and without a sale the clubs connection will remain constant.
It could be argued that Hayes may not dedicate more money to the Wycombe side of the divide but this seems unlikely as this could mean further devaluing the asking price for Wasps. In fact, some investment in Wasps may occur in an attempt to drive up the price.
When the sides eventually get there divorce then the changes will really come into effect. The first thing that comes to mind is the loss in the stadium rental which is inevitable as it is the reason for Hayes selling in the first place. What perhaps will be more important is how they negotiate the conditions for the existing contract. Wycombe is set up on a budget for the next two years which includes the rent but someone who takes over the club may look for Hayes to take on that debt. This could have a big impact on the club as it would come out of the clubs budget much earlier than predicted depending on how such money transfers are currently done. If the money genuinely comes form the income that Wasps makes then it will lead to less potential investment in the club from Hayes's pocket although it could be coming from there anyway which may mean there is little overall effect.
Another change for the negative could be the change in the conditions around beverages at Wasps games which Wycombe currently gets a substantial stake in. Although contractually obligatory, it could be another aspect vulnerable in a takeover agreement. This is a nice little earner for the club with numbers of 150,000 annually suggested by certain club members. This may have a bigger effect directly as this was going straight into the clubs coffers and helped balance the books.
However it should also be noted that there are significant everyday expenses that should be removed immediately after sale. Wasps match day security and police payments are currently part of Wycombe's remit of expenses being the nominal owners of Adams Park which is likely to cost around £8000 per game. This will do a lot to level out the losses incurred from the catering money. Wycombe also pay half the amount that is required to change the stadiums arrangement for whether it is football or rugby that is being played. The amount this costs is currently unknown however it is another aspect that should balance up the books a little.
The big downside is obviously going to be the financial loss of the rugby club from Adams Park, probably at the end of the current two year contract. Where Wasps go will be interesting and will obviously depend on who buys them however it would not surprise me if they end up renewing a deal to continue while building there own stadium nearer to London. Although this would be a bonus for Wycombe financially, it has to be assumed that the club will be without that money soon so changes will need to take place.
This is going to have an effect on the field if nothing changes as the Wycombe is already losing around 1 million a year as it is so current expenditure will have to be decreased. Some of that money will be accountable from commercial side of the football club which is reported to consist of upwards of 120 people. This could well be slashed in half which is sad for those involved who many supporters likely know but the club as a whole must come first. On the pitch, we're clearly going to be stretched like many other clubs are in the lower divisions however this will be up to the support of Hayes.
In fact, everything from this point will depend on the motives and desires of Steve Hayes. He owns the club and his willing to invest money into the club will have the biggest effect on the club moving forward.
Hayes says he is committed although would consider an appropriate offer. What this means is open to many interpretations although the analysis can be broken into two basic groups of "He is here to stay and maybe he will invest some of the wasps money into the club" or " He wants to see what he can get for Wasps and then will work on the sale of Wanderers so will invest nothing". Both these are feasible options. No one except Hayes himself knows the answer to this. As fans, we will have to wait and see although it has come to the point where actions speak louder than words so any announcement on next years playing budget will be closely scrutinized.
Some things that could well help on the playing side include the link with a bigger club to get some loan players in. We're close enough to London that we could beneficial geographically to a number of Premier League sides looking to give youngsters experience while increasing the quality of Wycombe's squad. Having more confidence in the younger players coming through the club may also make a difference as a number of high profile free agents have failed to perform on top wages in the recent past. There are likely to be even better suggestions out there but many will lead to the club being more sustainable but it will be up to the higher management of the club which Hayes is the vocal point which will lead us to future success or failure.
At this point it is up to Wycombe fans to trust that Hayes has the clubs best interests at heart and be ready to go forward with him as the club progresses forward. That interest is the survival of the club, preferable in the football league and always looking to pull of that one upset victory.We're minnows in blue quarters wandering of towards our next adventure.