October’s board meeting summary

The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its monthly meeting at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on Monday, October 17. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points that were discussed.

As usual, the start of the meeting was joined by Erik Samuelson, club chief executive, to talk through issues relating to the club. The first topic covered was progress with the new stadium, where Erik gave an update on progress with both the Section 106 agreement with Merton Council and financing.

In response to a question from Roger Evans about when we need to decide whether the new stadium will have a terrace, Erik said that one factor to be considered is whether rail seating (commonly known as ‘safe standing’) might become legal during the construction timeline. He will attempt to allow for this possibility when talking with the relevant authorities.

Now that planning approval has been given, the detailed overall project plan for construction can be finalised and will be presented to the Dons Trust Board at a meeting in November when our stadium consultant Andrew Williams will also be present.

Next David Growns presented a paper to the board on the introduction of a customer relations management (CRM) system for the club. The cost of this will have an impact on the club’s cash flow but the meeting felt it would bring considerable advantages, such as reducing the workload on volunteers and staff, improving the club shop and ticket sales experience, and helping us communicate more efficiently with people who come into contact with the various ‘branches’ of the club.

The plan is to introduce the CRM in phases starting from early 2017, to allow thorough testing before the club moves to the new stadium. After discussing various issues that were raised, the DTB voted to approve the expenditure on the CRM system.

Erik then gave an update on preparation of the club’s annual accounts for 2015/16, which are currently with the auditors, as we progress towards their presentation at December’s AGM. Trust treasurer Sean McLaughlin, who has similarly been working on the Trust’s accounts, expressed his thanks on behalf of the DTB to Erik and in particular to the club’s former Accountant, Alison, who had devoted a considerable amount of time to compiling the club’s accounts even after leaving for a new role elsewhere.

The meeting also discussed:

  • the new pop-up bar – will this result in the back bar being reserved for hospitality only? No: the intention is that the pop-up bar will be a much-needed addition to the main bars, although it can’t be used at matches when away fans are barred from our bars
  • the decision not to show the Oxford TV game at the ground – this had been a decision made by the club due to apparent lack of interest: the club had received no phone calls in the weeks leading up to the match asking whether the game would be shown, whereas usually there are frequent calls asking this. Erik accepted that communications regarding the decision not to open weren’t as clear as they could have been. It was pointed out by the DTB that the bar manager had been receiving criticism online for a decision that wasn’t his. In future the bar will be opened for away televised games to test support for the idea
  • club shop arrangements – the new office junior will help the merchandise team by readying some of the fulfilment paperwork for the volunteers to pick up
  • an approach from a charity that wants to work with the Foundation and the club to distribute breakfasts to local schools

With the time by now approaching 11pm, other Trust-specific items on the agenda – such as the London Living Wage and updates from the fundraising, membership and strategy reviews – were deferred to an additional meeting that will be held in November.

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. Apologies were received from Matt Spriegel.