Your vote matters more than ever

Chief Executive Erik Samuelson urges every single member of the Dons Trust to vote in the election to fill the four vacant places on the Dons Trust Board.

Good afternoon and welcome to the officials, players and fans of Luton Town. In particular, I’d like to welcome Chairman David Wilkinson and CEO Gary Sweet, who have been good friends and given lots of help, both to me and to our club, since we first came across each other back in 2011, in what was then the Conference National League.

There is a Special General Meeting of the Dons Trust here at the Cherry Red Records Stadium at 7.30 pm on Thursday 8 November. These meetings are often sparsely attended, with something like a hundred out of approximately 3,150 current adult members at the better-attended events. Even allowing for the fact that a proportion of the membership don’t live locally, these levels of attendance are disappointing, and despite many efforts to attract more attendees the numbers don’t change much.

In contrast, there is no lack of interest among members about matters they consider to be crucial. For example, three years ago over 85% of the membership voted on the Restricted Action that needed to be passed to allow us to sell our current stadium, to help fund the new one. So when it really matters, the members do get involved (albeit mainly by voting online). This is reassuring because there is a further Restricted Action being voted on as I write, and if passed it will enable us to go ahead with a proposed crowdfunding initiative involving issuing new shares.

In recent years, low levels of membership involvement have extended to the elections for the Dons Trust Board (DTB), among both candidates and voters. Last year there were only five candidates for the five vacant positions on the board, and so there was no election – and that wasn’t the first time this has happened. Two years ago, although there were enough candidates to warrant an election, the voter turnout was a very disappointing 27%. That was, in turn, a drop from the previous year’s 38%, which at the time was the second- lowest ever.

It is difficult to be certain why interest has been so low in recent years, but I’m pleased to see that, in terms of the number of candidates standing, the trend has reversed this year. In this programme you will find brief summaries of the manifestos of twelve candidates who are competing for the four places that are available in this year’s election. In my opinion, this increased involvement is a welcome development. Wider interest in standing will hopefully also indicate wider and more active involvement by the members.

Obviously I will be voting for some of the candidates but, as an employee of the club who reports to the DTB, I am not allowed to state publicly who I am voting for. But I can say how important it is that as many members as possible vote. If you are a member of the Dons Trust, then I urge you to vote.

Of course, it is difficult for members to work out who to vote for from the short summaries of the manifestos in this programme, but the candidates’ full (800-word) manifestos will be sent to members. Also, there will be an opportunity to talk to some of them at the Special General Meeting I mentioned earlier. I urge you to take advantage of that opportunity, and also to talk to current and former members of the DTB, as well as the football club board. Come and talk to us, not for guidance on who to vote for, but for an insight into how the DTB works and what qualities a board member will need.

I will end by observing that we are about to move into a critical phase of our development as a club with the move back to Plough Lane. The consequent increase in the scope and scale of our activities offers us new challenges and risks, as well as massive opportunities, and the roles of the DTB members will be more important than ever as we navigate this transition period. So, please, take the time and trouble to vote and make sure that the DTB is representative of more than a mere 27% of the members.

Note: this article has been edited slightly from the version that appeared in the matchday programme on the advice of the Elections Steering Group and independent election observer.