The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held its regular board meeting at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Monday 9 July 2018. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summaries the main points discussed.
The meeting was attended by Matt Breach, Mark Davis (Chair), Colin Dipple, Roger Evans, Tim Hillyer, Jane Lonsdale, Nigel Higgs and Secretariat members Roger Edmonds-Brown, Andrew Howell and Hannah Kitcher. The DTB were joined for part of the meeting by AFC Wimbledon chief executive Erik Samuelson.
Apologies were received from board members Charles Williams, Cormac van der Hoeven and Sean McLaughlin who noted that he was unable to attend as the meeting was rescheduled from the original date. Apologies were also received from AFC Wimbledon chief operating officer Joe Palmer and Trust Secretary Tom Brown.
The DTB had received the regular monthly report from the Football Club Board, together with an update on the Club’s strategy for player recruitment for the coming year. Erik agreed to provide the positive feedback to the proposed approach to Neal Ardley. The board suggested that the Club also make the approach known to fans via the Club’s website and matchday programme.
Ahead of the meeting, the Dons Trust Board had received a summary of the Elite Player Performance Plan audit. The board requested they receive regular updates on outstanding actions and progress towards resolving the points arising from the audit.
The DTB turned to a stadium update provided from Erik ahead of the meeting. Erik explained that we are likely to have prices from the contractors soon which will help with consultation of optional extras with fans.
The board discussed crowdfunding. The intention is to be ready to launch this in late September. Roger explained that the proposal for the first stadium consultation with Dons Trust members will be to seek endorsement for the crowdfunding, as issuing new shares in AFCW PLC is a Restricted Action according to the Trust’s Rules. Mark, Roger, David Hall, David Lloyd and Tom Brown have met to discuss the options and worked through a viable timeline. The plan is to send out a communication to members at the end of July.
The board discussed how best to keep members and fans informed on stadium progress and to consult them on emerging choices. A new stadium microsite is currently being built and will serve as the forum for the majority of communications on the stadium for members and fans. Pending the microsite, the Dons Trust Board agreed to prepare an update for release on the Club’s website. Among other things, the communication will make clear that consultations are planned, including on operational matters that affect supporters’ matchday experience.
There was a brief discussion on merchandise pricing. Joe Palmer had provided some interim analysis of other clubs’ pricing but this was not yet complete because not all clubs have set their prices yet. The discussion would be continued at the subsequent meeting, with Joe present.
DTB members provided updates from their respective committees. Mark reported briefly on behalf of the Oversight Committee. Matt then provided an update from the Strategy and Organisation Committee. They haven’t yet met but are scheduling a time to meet. Matt has had a couple meetings with Joe Palmer to discuss what he wants from the strategy and explained the process that the Dons Trust Board had previously undertaken with the New Economics Foundation in 2010-11. Matt proposed that the Dons Trust should do a mini re-run of this approach, in which we formulate scenarios to get members’ views on. Matt will be going back to the survey working group to recruit volunteers to support this. The board noted that a wide-ranging consultation exercise such as this is needed as it has been more than six years since the last one and it is something the board should consider doing every five years or so. Matt plans for the Trust to be in a position to conduct the consultation and feed back results in time for the AGM at Christmas.
Jane provided an update on behalf of the Engagement and Communications Committee and noted that there is an article that is ready to go out to announce the new Junior Dons volunteers who have had Disclosure and Barring Service checks and will be undertaking their safeguarding training with the rest of Club staff at the beginning of the season. Charles Williams is awaiting proofs for improved signage to go on the Dons Trust kiosk. Saturday’s friendly match against QPR at Kingsmeadow is also a Women At The Game event. The board noted thanks to Anna Slade for all the work she has put in to organising and promoting this event.
Mark provided an Operations committee update. Nigel is in the process of setting up an IT group. Some board members are currently experiencing IT issues in which they continue to receive messages about undeliverable emails. Nigel would be following up a proposal to subscribe to an improved version of Outlook 365. Mark noted there haven’t been any responses to adverts for volunteers to take on responsibility for Golden Goals and will be asking the Club to put up a reminder item on the official website.
The Dons Trust discussed how well the committee structure of the Board is performing and whether they have their terms of references right. The number of members and individual level of time commitment has varied from committee to committee, as has the degree of progress towards meeting their objectives for the year. Some DTB members felt that sitting on more than one committee was too time-consuming. Whilst more progress had been made than before the introduction of committees, this was in part a reflection of the fact that board members have been working harder, and the current workload is not sustainable.
Consideration was given to possible solutions to the issues raised. Possible solutions included de-prioritising some objectives, shuffling committee membership, advertising to recruit additional volunteers on some of the committees and ensuring that all committees have a nominated chair. Mark invited committee chairs to respond to the board ahead of the next meeting with suggestions for priorities and areas which may be able to amenable to support from volunteers. The Club’s new volunteer liaison officer would be invited to an upcoming board meeting.
The board had previously agreed that Mark would attend the Supporters Direct AGM on 28 July as the Dons Trust’s representative. The board discussed the most substantive item on the agenda – the proposed merger of Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation – and the board agreed to come to an agreement over email as to how the Trust’s votes should be cast.
The meeting finished at 10.30 pm.