The AFC Wimbledon and Dons Trust boards are today announcing that Erik Samuelson has decided to retire as AFC Wimbledon Chief Executive Officer.
Erik has been Chief Executive since April 2007, having previously served as Finance Director and a board member of the Dons Trust since the inception of the Trust and Club in 2002.
Erik took over as Chief Executive when the Club was playing in the Ryman Premiership, with Dave Anderson as first team manager. Erik’s twelve seasons in charge have seen AFC Wimbledon rise four steps higher in the football pyramid and, of course, cement the Club’s return to our spiritual home in Merton. That journey home took a further step forward last week with the go-ahead for preparatory earthworks at Plough Lane.
Dons Trust Chair Mark Davis said:
“This football club owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Erik for all he has done for us over the years. Achieving four promotions and securing a new stadium would be a major achievement for the Chief Executive of any football club. But to do that within a fan-owned club, with limited funds and headcount, is truly extraordinary.
“Erik has been talking to the Dons Trust board for some time now about his intention to retire. With preparatory work getting underway at Plough Lane, I have reluctantly agreed to his request to let that happen now. I wish Erik a long and happy retirement, to share with Eileen and the rest of the Samuelson family.
“Erik is not a man who accepts praise or expressions of gratitude easily. His consistent request for marking his departure has been ‘no fuss.’ I look forward to further opportunities to make no fuss about Erik between now and the end of the season.”
Ivor Heller, AFC Wimbledon’s Commercial Director, has worked closely with Erik throughout the seventeen years since the Club was re-formed in 2002. Ivor commented:
“Erik and I are two very different characters. That is how we have survived so long together at AFC Wimbledon. I have absolutely no doubt that we as a club would not be where we are today without Erik. His guidance and wisdom have been inspirational. The dedication and work ethic have been way above and beyond reason. I have never met anyone that has shown such dedication to a cause. It has not been for money or for glory. It has really been all about creating a football club and a legacy.
“Without a shadow of doubt, Erik’s legacy will be Plough Lane. In the early days nobody thought it was possible. I believe that without Erik it would not have been possible. For that and many other things I will be eternally grateful. The Club is now established and we are going home.
“Thank you Erik, and thank you to Eileen and your family, for putting up with what started as a great fun idea and turned into something incredible. Your legacy will last for many years to come and I am extremely proud to have learnt so much and to have worked with you for so long. Come on You Dons!”
Commenting on the arrangements for replacing Erik, Mark Davis added:
“Those fans who read Dons Trust Board minutes avidly will have seen various references in recent months to succession planning. Today’s news is about Erik, and all he has achieved for us. However, arrangements are in hand for a smooth and orderly succession and handover. I look forward to saying more at the Dons Trust SGM on 17 April, if not sooner.”
A video interview with Erik regarding his retirement can be found on the club’s YouTube channel.