February Dons Trust Board meeting summary

The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its monthly meeting at Kingsmeadow on Thursday, February 19.

The meeting was chaired by David Growns and started off by approving the minutes of the special meeting that had been held on Sunday, January 18 and the minutes of the official DTB meeting on January 19.

At the January DTB meeting, a vote to elect the new chair had been tied between Matt Breach and Kris Stewart, with one member of the DTB absent from the meeting. It had therefore been decided to vote again via email, and tonight’s meeting approved the record of the vote. The result was that Matt Breach was re-elected as chair of the Trust, receiving five votes (Matt Breach, Moorad Choudhry, David Growns, Mark Davis and Sean McLaughlin) to Kris’s four (Kris Stewart, Nigel Higgs, Jane Lonsdale, Zoe Linkson).

Football Club Board report

Unfortunately due to illness Erik Samuelson, the club Chief Executive, missed the meeting, but had as usual submitted a report from the Football Club Board (FCB).

David Growns provided the latest update regarding the club’s planning application for a new stadium in Wimbledon, including the latest envisaged timelines. Feedback from all the major agencies has now been received and, while more work is required, none of the feedback looks like being a deal breaker. He also reported that work on the detailed stadium design has now started.

There was also discussion about that day’s Football League (FL) meeting which was understood to have authorised the FL executive to finalise proposals to allow Premier League ‘B’ teams to enter the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, with AFC Wimbledon being the only League Two club to vote against. It was agreed that Kris Stewart would talk with other trusts to help us decide whether this is something for the Dons Trust to follow up.

The DTB thanked Sam Grayson for his hard work on the commercial side of the club, particularly with the matchday hospitality which was showing an increased profit at the same time as increasing quality.

The FCB report also included an update from Kay Skelton regarding the AFC Wimbledon Foundation. As well as news that a female Football Development Officer and a School Sports Development Officer have been recruited, the Foundation has entered a partnership with The Prince’s Trust to support interview training and shadowing of a professional work environment. The DTB agreed that to invite Ivor Heller, commercial director, and Kay Skelton, chair of the Foundation, to a forthcoming DTB meeting in order to hear more about their current work and projects.

After considering the club’s ‘very good’ results to December 31, the board moved on to discuss the restricted actions that will need to be passed by members to approve the move to a new stadium. A draft document has been prepared by David Hall and Mark Davis that will go out to members to prompt initial discussion, and this will be followed by the two official meetings needed in order to pass the resolutions. There was also discussion about the level of detail that the DTB feels it will need to receive from the FCB and our consultants in order to be able to recommend to DT members that they should vote in favour of the resolutions.

There was also an update from David Growns about progress with plans to engage Kingstonian supporters regarding the future of Kingsmeadow. Zoe Linkson, Kris Stewart and David will soon be putting this into action.

Nigel Higgs presented a paper to the board encouraging the club to sign up to the London Living Wage. Although Erik hadn’t had time before the meeting to look into the financial implications, he reported: ‘So far as permanent staff are concerned, the FCB bought into the principle two years ago and as regards such staff we were in compliance at the last wage review date (July 2014) bar one staff member.’

After discussion, the DTB voted in favour of a resolution saying that the club ‘wants to become a London Living Wage employer’ (Jane Lonsdale, Zoe Linkson, Kris Stewart, David Growns and Nigel Higgs in favour; Moorad Choudhry, Mark Davis and Sean McLaughlin against, the latter two only due to the wording of the motion). They then also voted to ask Erik how much work would be involved to pull together the information needed to decide on the next steps, and how much it would cost to move all existing permanent staff to LLW.

Finally in the FCB part of the meeting, Jane Lonsdale gave an update on webjam. The trial within the DTB is coming to an end this month and next it will be rolled out to the working groups. Longer term, the aim is to use it to help engage with membership and role it out to them.

Dons Trust issues

The second part of the meeting kicked off by agreeing the DT-only ‘part 2’ minutes from January’s DTB meeting.

This was followed by a discussion about the possibility of co-opting people onto the board in order to help fill skills or knowledge gaps, or to increase representation. It was agreed that Nigel Higgs, with input from Jane, would write a paper about this and bring it back to the board for further discussion.

Next the board received the Election Steering Group’s report for the 2014 elections. David Hall said that this year the whole process will be started earlier – around May/June time – in order to get it going. Other ideas to improve the process were briefly discussed and will be returned to.

Mark Davis then gave an update on the ticket pricing survey. He noted that some of the ‘free form’ comments might help the FCB this budget cycle, but looking further ahead asked what the DTB wants exploring in Phase 2. Mark agreed to pass his report on to the FCB which would be asked what its plans are for ticket prices next season.

Nigel Higgs then introduced Kick It Out’s Equality Standard, which provides a framework for tackling discrimination within the professional game. In response to questioning from other DTB members, Nigel reported that it would be a long-term project that would involve some time and cost commitment, and that it would need FCB involvement due to, for example, stadium requirements regarding access for those with disabilities. It was agreed that Nigel would investigate further in terms of the work done by other clubs, and that David Growns would flag this up to Erik.

A seperate discussion about disabled supporters’ representation was deferred until Matt Breach was in attendance, and so the meeting finished by catching up on the issue of supporter representation in the boardroom on matchdays. Zoe Linkson reported that she needs to follow-up with John Stembridge and Gerry Hever to get their input regarding what they envisage happening.

Any other business

Various items were discussed including:

  • David Growns reported on a meeting held last week to prioritise the board’s workload for 2015, the precise role of the DT chair, the issue of community shares, training for the DTB, a review of the election/induction process, and ways of working as a board.
  • Nigel Higgs queried supporters’ involvement in saying what we want included in the detailed design for a new stadium. David Growns reported that he had held a ‘bucket list’ meeting with Andrew Williams last week who will pass around what was produced as a result.
  • Zoe Linkson reported back on the work of the government’s Expert Working Group, which is due to produce an interim report to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport by the end of March setting out the 10 objectives that will be looked at during the remainder of the year.

In attendance from the DTB were: Moorad Choudhry (by phone), Mark Davis, David Growns, Nigel Higgs, Zoe Linkson, Jane Lonsdale, Sean McLaughlin and Kris Stewart. Apologies had been received from Matt Breach.

The next DTB meeting will be on Monday, March 16.


Entry updated on March 1, 2015 to correct formatting and hyperlinks.