February’s board meeting summary

The Dons Trust board (DTB) held its usual monthly board meeting in a meeting room at The Prince of Wales pub, Wimbledon, on Wednesday 27 February 2019. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points discussed. 

The meeting was attended by DTB members Rob Crane, Mark Davis, Colin Dipple, Roger Evans, Cormac van der Hoeven, Anna Kingsley, Hannah Kitcher, Jane Lonsdale, Luke Mackenzie. Also in attendance was club chief executive Erik Samuelson; club chief operations officer Joe Palmer was unable to attend due to family circumstances. Trust secretary David Growns and minute taker Roger Edmonds-Brown were also in attendance.

As usual, Erik’s report from the football club board had been circulated ahead of the meeting. The report mentioned that an official from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority had been at the Millwall FA Cup match and had commented positively on the stewarding and policing arrangements. However, Erik told the meeting that there had been three incidents during the recent Charlton home match that were being looked into: abuse of the away manager by one of our supporters, an incident of racial abuse of a Charlton player on Instagram that is being investigated by police, and an incident of abuse against Jason Euell. Jane Lonsdale commented that this was a good opportunity to publicise the phone number (0770 464 9119) that people can use to report abuse ‘as it happens’.

Erik confirmed that ticket prices would be unchanged next season and reported that the number of unused seats being returned for resale by season-ticket holders who are unable to attend a match has increased considerably since last summer.

The meeting then had a stadium update, discussing the first steps that will be carried out once we get on site and some last-minute overarching design considerations that need to be agreed upon before the board can present options to members for consultation. Mark also reported that, as the club gets close to being on site, the stadium group – which has representatives from the Trust and the club, plus our consultant – is now meeting every week.

Luke Mackenzie gave a brief update on the betting partnership consultation which was due to start before that weekend’s home match against Doncaster. It had been made clear it is an indicative vote and the issue had already driven member debate, he commented. Cormac noted that the Trust could have driven it more on social media but that this is a good example of getting members involved and to have a dialogue and conversation with diverse opinions.

After Erik left the meeting, the Trust board focused on Trust-only matters. After approving the minutes of the 9 January board meeting and the 23 January board meeting, the board resumed an ongoing discussion about succession planning.

The board then finalised discussion of its own roles and responsibilities for the year. A separate article will appear on the Trust’s website soon outlining who on the board is doing what.

Mark summarised responses to a recent appeal for volunteers for both people with financial expertise who are interested in being co-opted onto the board to help fill an identified skills gap, and for a treasurer, with the possibility that the roles might be combined if appropriate.

Under any other business, the board ratified a vote about the 9yrs podcast that had been carried out by email since the last official board meeting. Following on from discussions noted in the 23 January board meeting minutes, the board had voted against an initial motion, which the majority of board members felt struck too harsh a tone. A compromise motion had been put forward by Rob and seconded by Mark. It said:

“The Dons Trust board notes that the club has withdrawn the 9yrs podcast’s press pass following some comments made towards an AFC Wimbledon player in episode 154 of the 9yrs podcast. Even if humorously intended, these comments could be, and were, construed by some supporters as inciting violence against a club employee. The Dons Trust board strongly disapproves of the comments made and we do not intend to intervene to overturn the club’s decision. In light of the comments in the podcast, the Trust board will decline any volunteering offer from the 9yrs podcast until 1 June 2019. After that date, the board will consider any new volunteering offer from the 9yrs podcast in light of whether the podcast team: (i) has apologised for its comments, (ii) has not made similar comments about club employees in the interim and agrees not to make similar comments about club employees in the future, and (iii) as will be expected of all volunteers, agrees to comply with any future volunteers’ charter that is in place.”

The following board members had voted in favour by email: Rob, Mark, Jane, Anna, Hannah, Roger. The following board members had voted against by email: Luke, Colin, Cormac.

Also under any other business, the board record its thanks to James Mathie, a long-standing Supporters Direct case worker who had given invaluable advice to the Trust and club but was now leaving the organisation. They also noted receipt of a report from the Election Steering Group about the 2018 board elections; the DTB agreed to consider it at next month’s meeting.