A Win-Win for Bold Welwyn!

04 Mar 2024

Founded in March 2023, AFC Welwyn of the Spartan South Midlands League Division Two are about to celebrate their first anniversary. As with, this is their first season in non-league football and they are pro-actively embracing social media, new filming and editing technology and the many opportunities it now gives clubs to expand their supporter base and develop new income streams.
Having recently heard about, 40 of AFC Welwyn’s players and supporters are already registered to play The Ultimate Football Quiz, and they’ve even staged their own online version on YouTube.
The club was founded by owner and player Tawhid Juneja and this week, he explained how the club came about, what the challenges have been and why they are embracing innovative new ideas, such as’s unique way of raising funds for non-league clubs.
Why did you decide to start a new football club?
I made my debut for Boreham Wood FC at the age of 15, so I’d been playing non-league football for more than a quarter of century. Having also spent many years in business, I decided to look at how I could stay fully involved in the game when my friends finally tap me on the shoulder and suggest it is time to retire!
Initially I planned to buy and run a club myself but none that I approached were available or interested in selling, so I realised that an obvious solution would be to start one myself. The club was founded by me and our now our first team manager Richard James, on March 28th and AFC Welwyn were ready for the start of the season this season.
What was the process of setting it up?
I did a lot of initial research as I knew it was important to have a sustainable business plan and a good location and potential fan base. For example, if you look at Fleetwood Town in League One, their local population is around 25,000 but they still average 3500 spectators a week. Welwyn Garden City has twice their population and the existing football team here averages a couple of hundred each game so I was convinced there would be room for another local club.
I grew up and live locally, and previously played for Welwyn Garden City FC’s development team to help bring through some of their youngsters, and I knew a few people at the club so that gave us the base. Once we’d registered AFC Welwyn as a legal entity, organised insurance and appointed a management committee, we negotiated a three-year ground sharing deal with Welwyn Garden City FC and we now hire their ground for our matches and practice sessions for set fees.
That agreement enabled us to apply to become an FA accredited club and approach leagues, and we were quickly accepted by Spartan South Midland League Division Two in Step 7. There was a lot of paperwork involved but fortunately my wife Lisa is a barrister, so she kindly looked after the legal and contractual side.
Is it expensive to set up and launch your own team?
Yes, and we are working on the basis that we’ll make a loss for the first three years and break even in the fourth, but this is a very long-term investment and plan. It costs around £6000 a month to run the club, first team, development team and veteran’s side. We have about £35,000 in sponsorship but the rest is self-funded. As our outgoings increase each year, and the team progresses up the leagues, we hope to bring in more sponsorship and spectators so that all costs are covered by the end of our fourth season.
And as with every other non-league side, we’ve also got a significant number of volunteers and, they are the real heroes and backbone of the club as they do so much work and are an integral part of the whole project and they enable us to exist.
How did you hear about and The Ultimate Football Quiz?
It was actually through our film producer James Kilroy who was told about it. He put us all in touch and he’s pushed it out through our WhatsApp groups. I’m always very keen to get involved with anything that brings in new funding and I especially like innovative and original projects such as We’ve been having competitions between ourselves and even had an online quiz version on our YouTube channel and it’s great that we are now starting to enjoy some winnings and donations.
How did you find the players to set up a new team?
Fortunately, we already knew quite a few local players who wanted to join us, but we also advertised across social media and held two open trials. More than 70 guys turned up and we signed 8 of them for the first team. Many seem to like that we stream most of our games and post highlights and clips on social media so they can regularly watch themselves and share it all on their own social media.
You’ve already posted more than 250 videos on YouTube, is this part of a plan?
From the very beginning we wanted to be a club who are rooted in our local community but also exist in a big way online and across social media. That is the future and we want to ensure it is an integral part of our DNA and club philosophy and something we are able to harness and monetise.
James Kilroy is in charge of all aspects of the productions and he and his large team of volunteers are constantly filming and editing and trying out new ideas. We’ve already got more than 1000 subscribers on YouTube and they can see films with news and updates, interviews, match reports and training and regular looks behind the scenes.
At home games we usually have three camera match coverage, GoPros in each goalmouth and in the changing room and also a photographer, so the coverage is probably as comprehensive as any non-league team in the country.
The team create fortnightly editions of our own film series, Death Before Defeat, and we try and film almost everything as it gives us complete control of how our club and players are portrayed in the first year of this amazing project.
Some of it can be a bit raw and colourful, but we decided to be as honest as possible, especially in showing the changing room exchanges as they can be very direct and passionate. When we are contractually able to do so, we also live stream our home games.
What are your ambitions for AFC Welwyn?
Our aim is to win 7 promotions in 12 years and things are looking good at the moment as we are currently top of the table with 17 wins from 22 games. We are also looking at potential long-term partnerships with local farmers who own land where we could eventually build our own ground. 
It’s a cliché, but this really is a family. It is our project and we are all in at the beginning of something new and exciting and that is a rare opportunity in football. We’ve made plenty of mistakes and have been learning a huge amount about the need for our administration to be as disciplined as the players are on the pitch.
Our biggest gate has been 160 and the regular crowd is around 40 at the moment. But this is our first season, so we are looking to grow and bring in new supporters. We regularly involve schools and youth clubs and on Saturday mornings three players go into the town centre in club tracksuits to hand out flyers and promote the games.
Financial sustainability is key. We have all the usual revenue streams that we’ll be developing, such as gate money, bar and catering, merchandise and sponsorship, but we also want to develop new streams. We are looking at additional funding ideas such as a charity match or maybe we could partner with you for special live edition of The Ultimate Football Quiz at our club!
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