January’s board meeting summary

The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, January 19, 2017. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points that were raised.

As this was the first Trust board meeting since the recent election, the first task was to elect officers. Matthew Breach was re-elected chair, Mark Davis was re-elected deputy chair, and Sean McLaughlin was re-elected treasurer. The meeting welcomed Tim Hillyer to the board following his election and agreed to co-opt Matt Spriegel until the end of 2017.

Tim queried whether a skills audit of the board had been carried out as it’s possible to co-opt a further two people to fill any skills gaps. Matthew Breach responded that one had been done previously but needs revisiting – as well as filling any skills gaps, there is also the potential to ensure proper representation of the wider fanbase.

The meeting was then joined by club chief executive Erik Samuelson, who started by giving an update on progress with the new stadium. There had been significant progress in recent weeks towards concluding the Section 106 and other associated agreements, but Erik admitted that the original hope to have them signed off by December 31 had, with hindsight, been too optimistic. However, they are now making good progress towards being signed.

Jane Lonsdale asked about the recent appeal by a group of speedway fans to get Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium listed. Erik responded that Historic England are obliged to take the request seriously, and that they will assess the building’s history and architectural significance before making a recommendation to the Secretary of State. In the meantime, the project is continuing uninterrupted. (Trust members can see the timeline for the development, as presented to December’s AGM, on the Trust Webjam.)

After an update on possible activity during the transfer window, Jane asked about the club’s office staff who had been very busy recently, including working anti-social hours over the Christmas period in the build-up to the Sutton United match. Erik commented that the recent recruitment of a new member of staff had added capacity but while the group had taken on some extra admin work the intention is to avoid adding too much to the collective workload, so that individual workloads remain sustainable. The Trust board expressed its thanks to the staff for the work they did ahead of the Sutton matches.

Erik mentioned that there will be a written ‘lessons learned’ produced for both Sutton matches, which will be presented to the Trust board once complete. Any ticket-distribution process adopted for high-demand/limited-supply matches is likely to upset some people and, on balance, he felt a ballot was a good idea, but there were lessons to be learned and a policy regarding how to approach ticket sales for such games should be laid out before the start of next season.

The meeting then turned to preparations for the home match against Milton Keynes. Representatives from that club had visited the Cherry Red Records Stadium the previous day to discuss arrangements and to see the physical constraints of the ground for themselves.

The Trust board then considered a proposal to codify Mick Buckley’s role on the Football Club Board. Previously Mick had provided valuable input as, in effect, an executive director without portfolio, but Erik now proposed giving him a more clearly defined role looking after a number of areas, including communications and some tasks in relation to financing the new stadium. After discussion, the Trust board voted to accept the proposal.

With operations-specific issues covered, the Trust board then briefly considered various secretariat issues, with current Trust Secretary Rob McGlinchey finding it hard to combine the role with his work commitments and some other Trust volunteers experiencing similar problems. It was agreed to discuss these issues in more detail at a later date.

Under any other business, Jane reported on the success of the Junior Dons Christmas Party and thanked several volunteers who had stepped in at the last moment to ensure that the ratio of helpers to junior members fulfilled requirements. The board also thanked Jane for her work on the party.

Matthew Breach also reported that the ethical sponsorship survey is ready to be sent to members.

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