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AFC Telford chairman Andy Pryce reveals Walter Gleeson investment will be slow burner

Chairman Andy Pryce is delighted new investor Walter Gleeson saw potential in AFC Telford United – but warned progress will be a ‘slow burner’.

MusicMagpie chief Walter Gleeson has purchased the remaining 20 per cent shares of AFC Telford United (AMA)
MusicMagpie chief Walter Gleeson has purchased the remaining 20 per cent shares of AFC Telford United (AMA)

It has been revealed that successful businessman Gleeson invested in the remaining 20 per cent of unallocated shares at the National League North club.

The move has been billed as the most significant funding breakthrough since AFC Telford’s 2004 formation, with Bridgnorth-based Gleeson – co-founder of multimillion electronic sale firm MusicMagpie – committed to help fund the club’s infrastructure and success both on and off the pitch.

But while Pryce, whose family continue as majority shareholders, shared his excitement at the investment breakthrough, he tempered expectation and insisted the Bucks would not enjoy a wealth-backed ride through the leagues such as Fleetwood, Salford or AFC Fylde.

“No, that’s not the case,” Pryce said when asked if Telford fans could expect to see their side flying through the divisions. “We’d all like to dream and for that to happen but we’re realistic in where we are.

“It’s something that will help, but it’s a slow burner, we’ve had a little bit extra finance come into the club, which will help obviously, but it’ll be a slow burner.

“It’s not going to be a Salford or AFC Fylde, we still have to keep our feet on the ground but it’s great someone else saw the potential at Telford and do the same thing as myself to get the club back into the National League and build from there, it’s exciting times.”

Pryce, who revealed he and Gleeson had held talks for a couple of months after introduction via a mutual friend, added: “Walter has invested and bought into the club, I don’t really speak to Walter about his personal finances.

“We’re just speaking to him about how we can improve the football club, money streams into the club and so on.

“It’s just exciting that someone else has seen the potential of AFC Telford United and hopefully has the same enthusiasm we’ve had over the last 17 years and sees the future we can have.”

The MusicMagpie company Gleeson co-founded was this year floated for just under £210million on the London stock exchange. “We’ve sat around the table with plenty in the past who have said we want to invest this and this,” said Pryce.

“But we both sang off the same hymn sheet – a ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ scenario – we want to build a sustainable club and be successful, that’s a given.

“But there’s a right way of doing it. He saw we have been doing that, he liked that and we liked that he didn’t come in and say ‘I’m doing this and that and not coming in unless I get that’.

“He came and said ‘let’s build on what you are doing and doing successfully off the pitch’. We just need to get that little bit of luck and get running on the pitch now.”

Pryce said Gleeson’s presence on the board will also help the club with PR and marketing as methods to help drive up revenue streams.

The Bucks chairman admits, for the moment, focus cannot shift from the priority of new boss Paul Carden lifting Telford off the foot of the National North table and away from the threat of relegation.

“First and foremost we’ve got to be successful on the football pitch, that’s the main thing,” he added.

“We’ve got a great manager now in Paul Carden, who believes in what we can do and bring to Telford. We got a great point on Sunday.

“Slow steps are being taken, we’re working very hard behind the scenes to improve the squad.

“Off the field we’ve worked hard over the last 18 months with the West Stand facilities and the whole stadium into our ownership.

“Now we’ve got that we have to go down every avenue into how we can bring revenue in. It takes time, the building does need refurbishment, we need to look at everything.

“Hopefully with Walter and Highclear (Investment), we can go down the revenue streams to bring more money in.”

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