Updates on our current home, plans for a new stadium in Wimbledon, the search for a new manager, setting up a new community charity and the new Club website – these were just some of the topics discussed at the recent Special General Meeting of the Dons Trust. David Reeves reports on a lively evening.
Around 60 Dons Trust members attended the meeting on 20 September. Not surprisingly, only 24 hours having elapsed since the departure of Terry and Stuart, members were anxious to hear the latest news about a successor, and asked Chief Executive Erik Samuelson and the Dons Trust Board some searching questions.
Erik explained the process for recruiting a new manager, how Harry Bassett was helping the Football Club Board to find the right person, and confirmed that Harry wasn’t a candidate for the post. Already there had been a very good response to the advert, which closed on Tuesday 25 September. Members were keen to ensure that our next manager fully appreciated the history and culture of the Club. Other questions covered the selection criteria, the position of other full-time footballing staff and the Club’s football philosophy.
DT Chair Matthew Breach explained that the DT Board’s role would be to provide oversight of the shortlisting and selection criteria, and to ratify the Football Club Board’s recommendation for final appointment.
Fittingly, there was a unanimous appreciation from members for the huge contribution Terry and Stuart had made to AFC Wimbledon over the past five years. They also expressed their appreciation of Erik Samuelson’s leadership through a difficult period for the Club.
Turning to bricks and mortar, Erik gave an update on our hopes to return to a new stadium, with an initial 12,000 capacity, in Wimbledon. He said that he had been meeting local political leaders in both Merton and Kingston to keep them fully aware of developments.
On the current stadium, there were hopes that the East Stand might be able to be re-developed at a more minimalist level than had previously been anticipated.
Because of the present uncertainties regarding both the new stadium and the East Stand re-development, the DT Board had decided to put its current consultation on future financing on hold for the time being.
Chair of the Community Working Group Nicole Hammond then introduced a proposal to set up a new charitable trust which, alongside the work of the Community Football Scheme, would be responsible for the DT’s community activities. Establishing a charity would make good sense for a number of practical reasons, and with the Club having been awarded a Football League Trust grant of £30,000 for sporting involvement in education, health and social inclusion. Following discussion, members informally agreed to the Board continuing with its plans to establish a new charitable trust to take on the community aims of the DT.
The other major item of interest was the new Football League Interactive (FLi) Club website. Erik Samuelson agreed with members that the site experience so far was disappointing. The Club had been represented at a recent meeting between a number of equally concerned clubs and FLi. An action plan to address the shortcomings was being urgently sought from FLi.
There was more positive online news from Deputy Chair David Growns, who reported that the new Dons Trust website would be launching shortly, integrated within the main Club site.