The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its monthly meeting at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on Thursday, May 12. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points that were discussed.
As is customary, for the first half of the meeting the DTB was joined by football club CEO Erik Samuelson to discuss his monthly report. The meeting started by covering the latest regarding our planning application for a new stadium in Plough Lane. Following Sadiq Khan’s election as Mayor of London, the club has a meeting scheduled with GLA planning officers in early June to ascertain likely next steps.
The appointment of deputy mayors – including the deputy with responsibility for planning matters – had yet to be announced. No design work is currently taking place, pending planning approval, but a new calculation of overall projected costs is being drawn up to reflect the delay caused by the previous mayor’s decision to ‘call in’ the application.
Season ticket sales were at the time of the meeting 190 ahead of where they were at the same point last year, although this was likely to be partly due to people buying early with the possibility of prices being increased if promotion to League One is achieved.
The meeting also discussed ticket-selling arrangements for the Accrington Stanley home semi-final. Erik stated that although the workload was high, it was felt more prudent to rely on the existing office staff and experienced volunteers to handle sales rather than bring in outside help as those additional helpers would not have the same level of familiarity with our systems and would need extensive training.
The meeting then moved on to financial matters and looked at the accounts for the previous nine months, with Kingsmeadow Live flagged as doing very well. The budget for 2016–17 was also discussed. The Football Club Board put forward a ‘three scenario’ approach to the proposed playing budget, with each scenario reflecting a different outcome of the current play-off games:
- one playing budget based on losing in this season’s play-off semi-final
- another playing budget based on losing in this season’s play-off final at Wembley
- and a final one based on gaining promotion to League One.
Erik stated his belief that, with central funding increasing, other clubs are likely to increase their playing budget next season. After discussion, the DTB approved the proposal. Separately, the Board expressed its congratulations to Neal Ardley, his management team and the players on reaching the play-offs.
On behalf of some members, the DTB raised the manner in which cancellation of the planned pre-season trip to La Manga was communicated with supporters – members reported that some fans had expressed frustration that they had already spent money on travel before the event was cancelled.
There was feedback on the Dons Draw relaunch, which had taken place at a recent home match and resulted in a number of new sign-ups. This was felt to be encouraging as promotional activity on a matchday will inevitably mainly reach existing supporters who have been targeted by previous marketing efforts. Early next season the draw will also be promoted to Academy parents and people outside the club in an effort to bring in further sign-ups.
Turning to the London Living Wage (LLW), Erik reported that responses had now been received from all of the club’s contractors and the next step is to pull it together into a single report. This will be done for all except the stadium contractors by next month. In summary, some of the club’s contractors already pay LLW, but some don’t and would likely put up prices if they were obliged to.
Amongst the club’s existing permanent staff, all are paid LLW. For other paid roles with the club (e.g. bar staff), the club’s accountant is currently pulling together all of the data, a process that is time consuming because it includes gathering data relating to any other paid roles that they may have away from the club.
Nigel Higgs said that he has been chased on this issue by some Trust members and that he plans to give an update on it at the next Trust SGM. Erik appreciated this and emphasised that, amid the high workload currently placed on club staff, progress is being made.
For the second part of the meeting, the DTB focused on Trust-specific issues. Jane Lonsdale brought DTB members up to date on progress with launching the Dons Trust webjam. And with time running out, individual board members briefly gave an update from their own areas of responsibility. The meeting concluded at 10:45.
Present from the Dons Trust Board were: Tom Adam, Matthew Breach, Mark Davis, Colin Dipple, Roger Evans, David Growns, Nigel Higgs, Jane Lonsdale and Sean McLaughlin – all members were present.