March Dons Trust Board meeting summary

The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its monthly meeting at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on Monday, March 16. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points that were discussed.

The meeting started with a presentation by Kay Skelton, Executive Director of the AFC Wimbledon Foundation. Kay talked the board through the Foundation’s work and its funding sources. The Foundation focuses its work in four areas, all built around its vision of using the power of sport to engage the whole community:

  1. Sports participation – including in-school coaching and well-attended Saturday and school-holiday coaching sessions.
  2. Education – through projects such as the stadium school, which helps teach literacy and numeracy to mainly primary school children by basing learning around football, e.g. analysing the size of different players’ shirts to teach numeracy.
  3. Social inclusion – such as the newly recruited female football development officer’s work with girls who wouldn’t normally engage with any sporting activity.
  4. Health – through projects such as walking football for people over 50.

The Foundation operates with just three full-time staff, with a further three on fixed-term contracts that tie in to specific projects, supported by part-time coaches. Kay stressed that the comparatively small size of our Foundation can actually be a benefit as we know our staff well and know what they can offer to specific visits. The feedback that we have been receiving from the local community has been overwhelmingly positive and there is considerable scope for expansion if non-project-specific funding can be found.

As usual, AFC Wimbledon Chief Executive Erik Samuelson attended the meeting to give an update, which included news of contract offers made to a couple of younger players and an update on the healthy financial situation.

The board also received an update on the latest situation regarding the club’s planning application for a new stadium. The consultants are continuing to address the initial feedback received and the club remains optimistic of a successful outcome. With the amount of work still going on to refine the application, it is looking increasingly unlikely that it will be ready to be considered by Merton Council’s planning committee in March. In the meantime, work on the detailed stadium design continues.

Following last month’s DTB meeting, Erik had prepared an initial response regarding the London Living Wage (LLW) and the this was discussed further by the board. It’s not entirely clear who might fall within the scope of LLW if the club did sign up, e.g. would contractors working on the new stadium be obliged to pay their employees the LLW, too? And with the club’s home games falling approximately once a fortnight, even contracted staff who work for us regularly might not technically fall within the remit of the LLW (which affects people who work for two or more hours on any given day for eight consecutive weeks). Erik reported that the cost of achieving accreditation would actually be cheaper than meeting ‘the spirit’ of the legislation.

Matt Breach brought up an approach from Level Playing Field (formerly the National Association of Disabled Supporters) to see how they can help disabled supporter representation within the club. Matt had pointed out that we are a trust-owned club and that David Charles is the nominated disabled supporter liaison officer, but it was agreed that it would be helpful to try and engage more widely in order to help publicise the route that exists for any issues to be raised. It was stressed that this wouldn’t be a working group but a ‘community of interest’. LPF had agreed to come up with some ideas.

After considering any other business, which included news from Zoe Linkson that the newly reformed Hereford FC had been in contact looking for more information about our volunteer set-up and would be invited to a future game, the meeting concluded at around 10.30pm.

In attendance from the DTB were: Matt Breach, Mark Davis, David Growns, Nigel Higgs, Zoe Linkson, Jane Lonsdale, Sean McLaughlin and Kris Stewart. Moorad Choudhry phoned in to the meeting.