This article first appeared in the Dons v Chelsea pre-season friendly on Saturday 19 July 2014.
Chairman Matthew Breach provides an update from the Dons Trust Board on close-season developments.
First I’d like to welcome everyone back to The Cherry Red Records Stadium as we start our preparations for our fourth season back in the Football League. Amazingly this will be the first time we’ll have spent a fourth consecutive season in the same division since our relegation from the Premier League: it may have felt like forever, but we did take only three attempts to get ourselves up from the Isthmian Premier League, thanks to Mark DeBolla’s late free-kick on that memorable day at Staines.
While last season ended fairly flatly, the increase in our wage budget this season, brought about by the generosity of Mike Richardson, Iain McNay and all those who have contributed to the We Are Wimbledon Fund, has made possible some exciting signings, and we are very hopeful that we can push on and finish significantly higher in the League.
Continuing on from the end of last season, the Dons Trust Board has been busy on a number of fronts. First, and to our members probably most importantly, we have looked to support Erik Samuelson and everyone else involved in the new stadium project in making further significant progress towards a move back to our spiritual home in Wimbledon. Following the publication of details of the plans that we and our development partners have for the Greyhound stadium site, a major consultation exercise with local residents has been undertaken and was very well received. The next steps are to apply for planning permission for the development and to get finance in place, so the hard work continues!
Other major priorities for the Board have included organisation and improving communications with the membership. The investigation into the incident that led to us being deducted three points last season raised a number of organisational and administrative issues which are being worked through; already there have been major improvements to the office environment and a tightening up of relevant processes. A wider review of how we need to better organise ourselves to deliver both on and off the pitch, while at the same time undertaking the major project of pursuing the new stadium, is well under way, and the effects of that review should be visible over the next few months.
A survey on ticket pricing and related matters is being developed for launch at the next SGM, currently planned for late September. And progress has been made on the launch of a dedicated web-based service, using a tool called Collaborate, for significantly improving communications across the Dons Trust. We are aware that this is an area where we are still very weak, and we are looking to take a major step forward over the next few months.
To round off this introduction to the new season, I would like to say thank you on behalf of the Trust to a number of people without whom we would have struggled to achieve all that we have done. Last season the Golden Goals team, led by Roger and Linda Dennis, once again made a major contribution to our fundraising efforts – please show your gratitude to them as you buy a ticket!
A massive success during the summer was the launch of the new Admiral kit at Centre Court in Wimbledon, and thanks go to Ivor Heller, Sam Grayson, Jim Piddington and all the volunteers from the merchandising team who helped to get everything organised and enabled us to break our record for kit sales at a launch.
The two clean-up weekends at the stadium were again very well supported, and we are very grateful to all who helped out getting the place shipshape; I’m sure you will see the fruits of their labours as you look around the place today.
Finally, a general thank you to all the other volunteers and contributors who help to keep the club viable by giving time, support or money to the cause. You know who you are – be proud of what you are helping us to achieve.