Dons Trust joins government working group

AFC Wimbledon owners the Dons Trust have accepted an invitation from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to be ‘expert witnesses’ on a new group looking at supporter involvement at football clubs.

The Supporter Ownership and Engagement Expert Group is the government’s response to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee’s Football Governance Inquiry.

The inquiry made clear the need for government to work with supporters’ organisations to overcome barriers to greater fan involvement in the running of football clubs.

We have been invited to attend all meetings of the group, joining representatives from fellow trust-owned clubs Portsmouth and Wrexham, as well as the Swans Trust, the only Premier League club to have a director elected by its trust members.

The group, which will have its first meeting in London later this month, has representatives on it from Supporters Direct, the Football Supporters’ Federation, the government, the Premier League, the FA, the Football League and the Football Conference.

It will look at how to diminish and remove existing barriers to clubs becoming community-owned assets. It will investigate what can be done to help supporters’ groups have stronger links with the executives and owners running clubs. And the group will make recommendations to government, reporting to the sports minister.

At the launch of the group last month, Supporters Direct chief executive Robin Osterley said: ‘It’s very gratifying to see the government addressing the problems that prevent an increase in supporter ownership.

‘This is something that can directly and tangibly benefit supporters’ trusts, and we look forward to making swift progress on the issues.’

Commenting on the invitation, Zoe Linkson, elected board member of The Dons Trust, said: ‘We are delighted to accept the invitation to be part of this group.

‘The Dons Trust – along with our friends at Enfield Town, FC United, Wrexham, Exeter and Wycombe – has shown that community-owned football clubs are viable and sustainable. And the Swans Trust has shown that supporters can have a role in the boardroom at every level of our game.

‘We look forward to sharing our experiences with some of the key football decision makers in the country, and I look forward to reporting back to Wimbledon supporters.’