Additional November board meeting summary

The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held an additional meeting in November, on Thursday, November 3. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points that were raised.

This additional meeting was held so that the regularly monthly meeting, scheduled for November 10, can be devoted mostly to stadium-related matters, and to address several issues that recent board meetings haven’t had time to discuss due to the time devoted to the new-stadium project.

The meeting started with a section led by Jane Lonsdale on the Trust Webjam. The DTB had previously been asked for their opinions on how best to facilitate members submitting questions to individual board members, with the aim of making the questions easier to notice and respond to. A new ‘Ask the board’ forum will soon be created on the site that DTB members can subscribe to so they are notified when a question is asked.

Treasurer Sean McLaughlin then led discussion of the Trust’s draft annual accounts ahead of their presentation at this year’s AGM. The discussion concluded with the board voting to approve the accounts and expressing its thanks to Sean.

The meeting then briefly looked ahead to the AGM, with Jane expressing concern that, having experimented with alternative venues and formats this year, the AGM will be back to a ‘traditional’ theatre layout at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. Matthew Breach said he will emphasise that this is to help facilitate any formal counts and doesn’t mean that other venues and formats won’t be explored in future.

Next up was a discussion about the London Living Wage (LLW). In February 2015 the DTB had backed a motion submitted by Nigel Higgs wanting the club to become an accredited LLW employer and asking the club to estimate the cost of doing so. Club chief executive Erik Samuelson then pulled together a report saying, in summary, that all club permanent staff were already paid LLW but that there were uncertainties regarding the circumstances surrounding some other staff, particularly those with unusual contracted hours. There was also the risk of adding considerably to the club’s new-stadium costs if we commit to only working with building contractors who also pay their employees LLW.

This DTB meeting discussed Erik’s report. Various DTB members expressed reluctance to jeopardise the long-term financial stability of the club by incurring extra costs for building the new stadium, but agreed to:

  • promptly move to paying LLW to all club employees, including ‘casual’ staff
  • as contracts come up for renewal, move to engaging contractors who pay the LLW
  • meet with the Living Wage Foundation to talk through some specific outstanding issues and to map out a timeline for achieving accreditation.

Next the meeting moved on to consider a fundraising strategy that is being prepared by Tom Adam. The strategy aims to increase fundraising income while avoiding possible ‘toe treading’ by the different areas of the club, such as the Trust, the Academy and the Ladies & Girls section, plus the AFC Wimbledon Foundation. Tom presented the first stage of his paper, which explores different fundraising sources used by other professional sports clubs that could also be used by us, such as a lotto scheme, scratch cards, donations, legacies and grants. The next stage will be to draw up an action plan based on the sources we choose to target ahead of further consideration by the DTB in early 2017.

The meeting then discussed access given to fanzines and podcasts, in particular the 9yrs Podcast who have offered to do a regular Trust-focused podcast. This prompted discussion about the extent to which, accepting we’re a fan-owned club and that these channels can be another way for people to hear what the Trust is up to, there might nevertheless be a risk of blurring of boundaries between official and unofficial media channels.

The board next reaffirmed its position on the Checkatrade Trophy – to donate the profits from ticket sales from any future home match against an Under-23 team to charity, regardless of how far the club proceeds in the competition – and Matthew Breach reported that he had attended the previous day’s inaugural EFL Fans Consultation Meeting, where the EFL had maintained that the revamped competition has been a success.

After various other items of other business, the meeting concluded at 10.45 pm.

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