Our priorities for the year

Matthew Breach, Chair of the Dons Trust Board, outlines the Board’s priorities for the year and some changes being made to how it plans to handle things.

As I touched on in the Carlisle United programme, the Dons Trust Board (DTB) has recently spent time planning for the future. Two extra meetings have been held in recent weeks aimed specifically at agreeing our priorities for the next year and discussing how to work effectively at delivering them.

Board members felt that this was a very important activity to get right because over the past few years there has been a tendency for the DTB to take on “too much”, and as a result we failed to deliver on all our promises. The aim this year is very much to promise what can be delivered, and then to deliver on those promises.

The first meeting concentrated on identifying the multitude of possible activities that the DTB could undertake during the year. These ranged from oversight responsibilities to external campaigns, with the total potential workload enough to keep a full-time board busy, let alone our own volunteer one!

These actions, activities and issues were put into groups, and the groups were rated to give them an initial priority. Alongside these groups another list was compiled to identify the different methods by which these activities could be carried out: for example, they might require the involvement of the entire DTB, or be something a working group could address, or be something that could be delegated completely.

The second meeting worked through these initial results in detail to finalise a list of the seven key areas for us to prioritise and propose how the major items within each area will be tackled. One of the main talking points from these meetings was the need to allow space in our plans for “fire-fighting” – every year we have to deal with things that couldn’t be planned for, so we’ve allocated some capacity for what will undoubtedly arise this year.

The priority areas identified are organisation, the new stadium, financing, budget management, coherent communications, member engagement and external campaigns.

The area of organisation is one we’ve looked at over the past three years or so, with gradual changes being made to how the whole organisation (the club, Trust, Foundation, etc.) operates. This gradual evolution will need to continue as we make the transition to an organisation that delivers and then operates the new stadium.

The new stadium itself is another (obvious!) priority. Erik Samuelson has assembled a superb team to design and deliver the stadium, so this is an area where the DTB will much more be in “oversight” mode than actively managing tasks.

A third related area is financing, where the DTB has both oversight – with respect to bank loans, stadium naming rights, etc. – and more hands-on responsibilities, such as working with the Football Club Board (FCB) on financing issues.

Two more areas involve a high level of interaction with the club and the FCB. Budget management is an FCB responsibility, but approval of the budget and oversight throughout the financial year are key roles for the DTB.

The other is coherent communications: essentially, recognising that communications from all parts of the organisation to Trust members and other fans need to be clear and consistent. The FCB has several activities ongoing in this area, and these are being co- ordinated with our own initiatives to improve the situation.

The last two areas are improving our member engagement (building on the coherent communications) and supporting external campaigns such as safe standing, where having our voice heard helps not just us, but all football fans.

It still seems a daunting list, but the whole DTB will be working to progress these issues and will be calling on you to support us – please step up and volunteer when you see where you can make a difference!


This article originally appeared in the matchday programme for the game against York City, played on March 19, 2016.