Freshly seasoned

Dons Trust Chair Mark Davis tells us what the Dons Trust Board have been busy doing since the end of last season and looks ahead to some important developments.

Those of you who follow the progress of the Dons Trust Board (DTB) via the Trust’s site will, I hope, have noticed two things. First, that the minutes of DTB meetings are now getting published punctually (for five consecutive months within our 30-day target, thanks to two new minute-takers). And second, that the close season has been a busy period for us. I cannot do justice here to everything that’s been going on (look at the minutes, or the blog page on Webjam for a summary), but I’ll pick out a few.

Football

As ever, oversight of the football club occupies much of our time. Things that have required our attention recently include approval of the budget, the club’s approach to player recruitment, the proposed restructuring of the Ladies & Girls Section and – a topic brought to our attention by members – merchandise pricing.

Stadium

On the stadium front, we have been preparing to launch a vote for our members to authorise the club to raise funds through the sale of additional shares in AFCW PLC, the holding company for the club’s operating subsidiaries. Members will shortly receive a letter about that, and there will be a Special General Meeting on 13 September to explain the proposals.

Dons Trust matters

Thanks in part to our new committee structure, we have also been able to make progress with the activities of the Dons Trust itself. In the last programme, Jane Lonsdale wrote about the recruitment of a new team to run the Junior Dons, now that Roger and Linda Dennis have stepped down, and we have also managed to replace Roger and Linda as organisers of our new-look Golden Goals.

Behind the scenes, the implementation of new privacy legislation, known as GDPR, has prompted us to update our privacy notice. The arrival of August also means a great deal of work for our loyal membership secretary, John Stembridge.

Wider football matters

We have played our part in the wider football governance agenda by voting, as a member of Supporters Direct (SD), in favour of the proposed merger between SD and the Football Supporters’ Federation.

Communications

One thing we did shortly after the end of the season was to hold an additional DTB meeting on communications. There has been a fair amount of discussion on social media about the perception of a growing distancing between the boards of the club and trust and our fanbase. The “disconnect” word started to surface (or, at least, came to my attention) last autumn, but the debate ratcheted up towards the end of the season, after changes were announced to season-ticket renewal rights.

The DTB discussed this disconnect at some length. I take it is a positive feature of a democratically elected board that we held a range of views on just how prevalent the perception of a disconnect is. But, whether it is widespread or not, there is a shared determination to break down any barriers by communicating better. There are small ways in which we can do this, such as by being as approachable as possible on match days, and more profound ways too. Matthew Breach will be leading a consultation to refresh our strategy and understand what sort of club our members want. And we are very conscious that we owe you, the members, a consultation on various aspects of how to run your new stadium.

Get involved

The DTB strives to make the Trust and AFC Wimbledon everything you want them to be. I have one plea for how you can help us reconnect. Next month, the Election Steering Group will be seeking nominations for election to the DTB. If you are a Dons Trust member who cares passionately about AFC Wimbledon as a fans-owned club; if you have some ideas, and the time and energy, to turn them into actions; if you have an ability to listen to people and communicate with them – then please consider standing for the DTB. And, if you have any questions about what that entails, come and talk to me or any of my DTB colleagues. Let’s not have another year without a contested election.

Finally, the Election Steering Group is looking for a volunteer to help with modern media communications during the election. If you have relevant skills and would like to help out, please email elections@thedonstrust.org.

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