April’s board meeting summary

The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its monthly meeting at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on Thursday, April 14. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points that were discussed.

The meeting started with Trust chair Matthew Breach giving verbal feedback from the recent Football Club Board (FCB) meeting, which he attends on behalf of the Trust. Among the issues that the FCB had discussed were the current poor state of the pitch (worse than it appears from pitchside) due, in part, to an infestation of nematode worms eating the roots.

With club chief executive Erik Samuelson unavailable due to family commitments, the meeting was joined by director Mick Buckley to discuss the monthly FCB report.

Nigel Higgs asked about progress towards meeting London Living Wage criteria. Mick responded that David Charles has been speaking with contractors who have struggled to give precise answers. After some discussion it was agreed that an update on progress to date would be beneficial so that a future DTB meeting can decide when to implement it, taking into consideration the FCB’s overall workload.

After discussing promotion of the ongoing Foodbank collections and an update on progress with our planning application for a new stadium in Plough Lane, the meeting moved on to discuss some broader issues surrounding the first draft budget for next season.

Acting as devil’s advocate, the board queried whether maintaining the existing first-team and academy budgets was a noble but unrealistic target. Nigel Higgs commented that academy spending represents a considerable portion of the budget and that more narrative about precisely how the money is spent would be helpful. It was agreed to focus on this in more detail at the next meeting. Mark Davis suggested that the next Trust SGM might also present an opportunity to talk about the academy, possibly with a presentation by Jeremy Sauer, and that because this is a football-related topic it might help draw members to the meeting.

Mick Buckley commented that more is being done to manage segregation within the ground in an effort to allow more Wimbledon fans into the ground, experimenting with imposing all-ticket status and a ticket cap on the away club’s support when it isn’t anticipated that a large number will travel – this allows us to fill the extra space with more Wimbledon fans. More marketing activity has also been carried out recently, with Facebook activity proving particularly productive. And a number of initiatives are being explored to make the programme more commercially rewarding, including exploration of selling online.

The board then discussed Trust-only business, and Jane Lonsdale gave an update on progress with Webjam, the Trust’s forthcoming online engagement tool. An initial content plan is being drawn up for the launch period, during which users will be ‘made live’ in batches of 100. The wireframe for the design has been drawn up and more detailed design work is set to start. A marketing budget will be presented to the next DTB meeting to help make the launch high profile.

DTB members then gave updates on their own areas of responsibility. Matthew Breach updated on the stadium-design consultation – a recent appeal for help had already prompted eight encouraging responses and revealed previously unknown skill-sets s within our membership. David Growns gave an update on the situation with regards to the future of Kingstonian FC and introduction of a CRM system at the club.

The board then engaged in a lengthy discussion about co-opting people to the board to fill specific roles and the best way of going about this. Jane Lonsdale pointed out that the current DTB is more representative of Trust membership than of the wider fanbase and doesn’t have the life experiences of many of our fans. It was agreed that Mark Davis will speak to younger previous DTB members to find out their experiences and draw up a ‘person specification’ outlining the sort of characteristics that would be beneficial to help the board.

Under any other business, Jane Lonsdale raised the issue of notification of SGM dates, pointing out that unless earlier notice is given members don’t have time to submit member motions. Mark Davis urged any members who might want to submit a motion to get in contact at any time with the Secretary so that their idea can be formulated into a suitable resolution.

Present from the Dons Trust Board were Matthew Breach, Mark Davis, Colin Dipple, Roger Evans, David Growns, Nigel Higgs, Jane Lonsdale and Sean McLaughlin. Apologies were received from Tom Adam.