Gareth Ainsworth says he and his staff are working meticulously on securing the best possible squad for the 2019/20 season – and the contributions of supporters to the 500 Club could play a significant part in getting deals across the line.
The Blues boss parted company with seven out-of-contract players last month at the time of the revelation that the club has been forced to cut its playing budget, prompting many fans to express an interest in digging into their own pockets to help out.
More than £40,000 has now been pledged by over 160 members of the 500 Club – each committing to £20 per month for 12 months – and Ainsworth says he’s overwhelmed by the generosity and dedication on show from the Chairboys faithful.
“They’ve blown me away,” he said. “This club never ceases to surprise me. We asked the fans a couple of years ago to help out with the playing budget, which they did, and we felt that sometimes we ask too much of them, so we didn’t go back to them for help last year because we wanted to survive in League 1 on our own bat, which we did.
“We need some help this summer and I’ve had a lot of messages from Wycombe fans saying ‘I’m in; we trust you, we know what you can do and we still believe this club can compete’. It makes so much difference so thank you to everyone who’s pledged their money and it could go some way to bringing in the next Fred Onyedinma, Alfie Mawson or Eberechi Eze. The players are out there; we’ve just got to find them, be in the right place at the right time, and we’re working really hard to make sure we’re ready for the first day of the new season.”
Ainsworth offered contracts to three current players – as well as securing young keeper Cameron Yates by triggering an extension on his deal – and was thrilled to see Scott Kashket and Adebayo Akinfenwa put pen to paper earlier this summer.
“When we had that day at the end of the season when decisions were made on contracts, it was really difficult for me as I had to choose who we were able to keep, and in an ideal world I’d have liked to keep another couple.
“But we knew we wanted to keep Scotty, who was awesome at the end of the season and we saw real glimpses of what he can do. He’s a great guy to have around the place.
“There’s not much to say about Bayo that hasn’t already been said. He’s an absolute leader who scores so many important goals, and I think without his goals we might not be where we are today. It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to keep him and Scott with us.
“The squad’s coming together now; we’re very small on numbers, and we’re at the back of the queue for a lot of potential signings, but we’re waiting for some loans to become available. All I’d say to the fans is don’t expect too much; I know sometimes people panic thinking we might be the last club to sign someone, but it all pans out in the end. There’s a lot of time left in the window and there’ll be some trialists on show in pre-season that we can have a look at.
“The summer’s gone quickly, but it was nice to spend time with the family and now I’m looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into another new season.”
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