Crawley Town, a League Two football club, finds itself in a state of disarray due to the reckless leadership of its owners. With a 32-day managerial reign, the club's constant turmoil and a peculiar bonus system have left fans and players bewildered. Wagmi United, a cryptocurrency sports company, acquired the club in April, promising better days and increased fan engagement. However, their unconventional approach and mismanagement have resulted in a downward spiral for Crawley Town.
When Wagmi United purchased Crawley Town, co-founder Preston Johnson emphasised the club's potential for improvement and the deserving fans. The team finished 12th in the previous season, making the fans hopeful for a fresh start. The "crypto bros," Johnson and Eben Smith, aimed to build a close-knit community of fans, reaching beyond West Sussex to anyone with an internet connection. Fans were excited about this new project in the fourth tier and the prospect of a unique football experience.
Despite the initial enthusiasm, the club struggled to maintain stability in the managerial position. Kevin Betsy, a highly respected figure from Arsenal, was brought in as the head coach to usher in the new era. Unfortunately, Betsy's tenure lasted only four months. His replacement, Lewis Young, held the position temporarily and believed he had done enough to secure the role permanently. However, he too was replaced by Matthew Etherington, Peterborough's under-18s coach.
Matthew Etherington's appointment seemed promising, with Johnson highlighting his "appetite for risk," albeit insensitively alluding to the former Stoke winger's gambling issues. However, Etherington's time at Crawley Town was marred with incidents. He claimed that the club prevented him from playing striker Tom Nichols after a fee was agreed with relegation rivals Gillingham. Nichols' sudden exit after his last game with the club drew criticism from fans.
Crawley Town's transfer activities during the summer raised eyebrows. The club attempted to implement a statistics-based recruitment policy, aiming to identify players based on data analysis. Dominic Telford, League Two's top scorer from Newport, was a notable acquisition. However, the introduction of unusual financial incentives, such as a bonus for winning the ball back in the opposition half, raised concerns among players and industry experts. One potential signing was even offered a bonus per header, a lucrative deal in the fourth tier, but he chose to sign with another club.
Crawley Town's recruitment strategy took a strange turn when they announced scouting trials for three YouTubers from Sidemen FC, affiliated with Wagmi. The club expressed the possibility of including them in the team for an upcoming FA Cup match, but ultimately none of them were signed. Additionally, experienced players like George Francomb, club captain, Tony Craig, and Jake Hessenthaler were mysteriously excluded from the squad after Etherington's departure, leaving a void in the team.
The club's supporters' association requested a meeting with the owners, expressing their concerns and frustrations. However, Johnson responded by citing ongoing legal issues and postponed the meeting. The unconventional approach to ownership that Wagmi United promised has clearly failed to bring about positive results for Crawley Town.
Crawley Town's descent into chaos under the ownership of Wagmi United serves as a cautionary tale. The club's constant managerial changes, controversial decisions, and unconventional recruitment methods have only exacerbated its troubles. Fans and players alike are left questioning the direction and leadership of the club.