The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its monthly meeting at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on Monday, August 15. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points that were discussed.
[This summary was previously made available exclusively to Trust members on the Trust Webjam but, now that September’s board meeting has taken place, is also being made available to the wider fanbase.]
The start of the meeting included the Trust’s membership secretary, John Stembridge. John outlined the challenges that he faces in his role, including an ever-growing membership base, a database with single-user access that had been chosen in 2002 when the eventual size of the Trust hadn’t been fully appreciated, and regular administrative tasks such as reconciling Direct Debit payments and processing online PayPal membership applications (which currently involve users completing two forms). Particularly at renewals time, this places a high workload on the membership secretary role.
The Trust Board briefly discussed the advantages that introducing a customer relationship management (CRM) program will bring to the membership management, including the challenges around introducing it that are being encountered by David Growns.
Jane Lonsdale pointed out that the recent Supporters Summit had included a stall where a third-party that handles membership services on behalf of membership organisations had been advertising their services. While this is investigated further, Roger Evans’ suggested that the DTB could approach members who have the necessary skills to help on both the membership and the CRM side of things. The DTB also expressed its appreciation for the work done by John, who has been membership secretary ever since the Trust launched in 2002.
The meeting was then joined by both club chief executive Erik Samuelson and commercial director Ivor Heller for updates from the Football Club Board. Regarding our planning application for a new stadium, Erik mentioned that the volume of supporters who wrote in to the Mayor of London during the recent consultation might actually delay an announcement regarding the next steps, as those responses would need to be processed by the GLA. (This meeting was held before the Mayor’s subsequent announcement.) The board expressed its thanks to the fans behind the Bring the Dons Home campaign who had helped encourage fans to respond. Erik was exploring the financial consequences of accelerating the building phase of the project in order to make up time lost by the calling-in process.
The DTB then discussed the approach to take to the forthcoming home match against Swansea City in the Checkatrade Trophy, with Erik and Ivor contributing to outline the club’s obligations. The stance adopted was later announced on the club and Trust websites.
In response to a question from Roger Evans, Erik reported that the new pitch-maintenance contractor had carried out intensive work to bring it up to standard, although it was at that point around three weeks behind where it would ideally be at that point in the year.
The meeting then discussed the forthcoming Dons Trust SGM and the discussion scheduled to take place about ethical sponsorship. It was emphasised that the discussion prompted by the ethical sponsorship discussion paper would be the start of a process that would, if necessary, get finalised at the AGM and that further targeted surveying could take place between the two events.
The meeting also briefly discussed highly critical comments that had been made by some supporters about the bar ‘running out’ of a line of ale at the Meet the Manager event. A barrel of the ale had run out and the bar manager took the decision not to tap another barrel as it would have been highly unlikely to sell out during the remainder of the event and, with no other events occurring soon afterwards, the majority of its contents would have had to be thrown away. It was stated that not opening a barrel in such circumstances is common practice at venues with irregular events. No written complaints had been received. The Football Club Board and the Dons Trust Board both felt that the bar manager had made the correct commercial decision in the circumstances.
The meeting then moved on to consider Trust-related issues, starting with co-opting Matt Spriegel onto the board with a remit to increase membership among fans aged 16–35.
Jane Lonsdale reported on the initial roll-out of Webjam and thanked the volunteers who had contributed to the project. Tom Adam reported that he had had a good response to an appeal for help with fundraising and was now working on the strategy. And the We Are Wimbledon Fund had received £611.50 from supporter Alex Saville, raised through the sale of Wombley t-shirts in the build-up to the play-off final.
Present from the Dons Trust Board were: Tom Adam, Matthew Breach, Mark Davis, Roger Evans, David Growns, Jane Lonsdale, Matt Spriegel. Apologies were received from Nigel Higgs and Sean McLaughlin.