July’s board meeting summary

The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its monthly meeting at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on Wednesday, July 13. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points that were discussed.

The first half of the meeting was given over to a presentation to the DTB by Academy manager Jeremy Sauer, with first-team manager Neal Ardley also in attendance. The Dons Trust makes a financial contribution towards the Academy each year (£62,000 coming from the Trust’s budget in 2014–15), and Jeremy explained the structure of the Academy, how it is run and, with help from Neal, the progression route through into the first-team squad. Trust members will be able to see Jeremy’s presentation slides on the Trust’s Webjam, alongside a brief commentary explaining each slide.

The second half of the meeting started with a brief discussion about the role that the Trust could play in providing sponsorship to local sports organisations, prompted following an approach from Morden Girls League to renew sponsorship. Nigel Higgs wondered whether it might be appropriate to consider sponsoring other similar local organisations, too, and Matthew Breach agreed that it would be beneficial to draw up a strategy to cover future approaches. The board voted to renew the sponsorship.

The meeting then talked through the final draft of the 2016–17 budget with club chief executive Erik Samuelson. Erik explained a change in the distribution of TV money for League One clubs, which would now be shared equally between all clubs rather than those selected for TV coverage being paid a ‘facilitation fee’. This change had been made to ensure a more equal distribution of money throughout the league, rather than favouring those clubs that were more often selected for coverage.

Nigel Higgs queried whether an allowance had been made in the budget for paying London Living Wage, if we commit to that. Erik responded that this hadn’t been incorporated, and Matthew Breach pointed out that the budget could always be updated later during the financial year if need be. (Note: all full-time club employees are already paid the London Living Wage, although the situation with part-time employees is less clear and depends partly on their individual circumstances.) The board then voted to approve the budget as presented.

Turning to the latest cashflow figures, Roger Evans asked whether the total profit for the play-offs was known. Erik responded that it wasn’t: some bills were still coming in and some figures were still awaiting confirmation by the Football League.

The meeting briefly discussed progress with our planning application for a new stadium in Wimbledon (at this point the club was still waiting to hear from new mayor Sadiq Khan regarding the next steps, subsequently announced to be new consultation on returning the application to Merton Council for its consideration).

The prospect of playing home matches against Milton Keynes was again discussed, and it was agreed that a ‘starting point’ stance to take would be drafted as a prelude to further discussion.

Erik highlighted the promotion celebration in Wimbledon town centre and the very successful kit launch: takings on the day were double what they had been two years ago at a similar launch event. Erik’s report commented that Centre Court staff ‘were once again brilliant’ and that Pietro Palladino and Jim Piddington, and a large number of volunteers, had worked their socks off.

The DTB then discussed our approach to the EFL Trophy, with Erik saying that the Football Club Board needed guidance on how to approach it. The general consensus of the DTB was that, if we have to compete in the competition, we should try to win it while maintaining opposition to its reform. Erik also asked for guidance on the Football League’s Whole Game proposals. The DTB emphasised that they would be against any proposals that included B teams but would discuss the overall proposals in more depth at the next DTB meeting.

The meeting then rounded off with a brief discussion of a draft sponsorship policy, which will be put to members at the next SGM.

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

Future board meeting summaries will initially be made available to Trust members only via the Trust’s Webjam before being published on this website a month later.