Dons Trust Board chair Mark Davis summarises the key activities at board level that have taken place so far this summer.
First of all, I’d like to welcome you all back to a new season – our final season at The Cherry Red Records Stadium. Whilst this football club belongs in Merton, TCRRS has felt to me like a place that for the past 17 years we have been able to call home. There are many things I will miss about this place – the pleasant (four-mile) walk to get here, the back bar, and my perch in the Chemflow Terrace, to name just a few.
It doesn’t seem very long since the final home match of last season, against Wycombe Wanderers. But that’s partly because some of us haven’t exactly been away. By my reckoning, I’ve had 20 or so meetings at TCRRS since then – four Dons Trust Board (DTB) meetings, 12 stadium committee meetings, one Football Club Board meeting and several other meetings too.
It’s been a period of intense activity and, in my case, nearly all stadium-related. We are at the point now where we are having to make rapid progress on multiple fronts – on finalising the construction contract with Buckingham, and on raising the money to pay for it. Now that the preliminary work has started on the site, we also have to keep an eye on the day-to-day issues that inevitably arise with a construction project.
Since the start of March this year, I have been chairing weekly stadium committee meetings. As well as me, these meetings are attended by four members of the DTB (Rob Crane, Colin Dipple, Roger Evans and Edward Leek), three representatives of the football club (Joe Palmer, Mick Buckley and our financial controller, Tom Rawcliffe) and our project manager, Joe Giordano.
The agenda for each meeting follows a set format – we go through every key aspect of the project, and it sometimes feels like Groundhog Day. None the less, I think this level of discipline is worthwhile.
We held a meeting with fans on 3 June to take them through the stadium design and explain where we are with the crowdfunding. As well as revealing the design for the permanent West Stand, we mentioned the possibility, subject to costs, of consulting you on the other three, semi-permanent stands.
Having now had further costs on the two options we were exploring, the cost difference is so substantial that there is only one realistic option – a “bowl” configuration, up to 11 seats deep, that wraps around from each end of the West Stand. Personally, I think it looks great. But the reason we’re not able to consult on it is because we just can’t afford the other option.
One change I should report is that, owing to pressure of work, Mick Buckley is standing down from the board of AFC Wimbledon. Mick’s been an enormous source of wisdom over the last six years, bringing very senior management experience, commercial expertise and energy to his non-executive role. I’m delighted to say, however, that Mick has agreed to join the board of AFCW PLC.
With AFCW issuing further shares, we are now reshaping the composition and role of the AFCW PLC board a bit. The board will consist of Iain McNay, Joe Palmer, Mick Buckley, Edward Leek, Anna Kingsley, Roger Evans and me, thus reinstating a majority of DTB nominees.
My thanks go to Ian Cooke, who has been a stalwart on the AFCW PLC board since 2003 but is now stepping down from that role.
Finally, whilst it’s still only August, the DTB elections are not far away. Do think about whether you have the appetite and credentials to make a contribution to the board. As someone who is due for re-election, it’s not for me to say what attributes you need to perform in that role, but do feel free to speak to those board members who are not up for election (Rob Crane, Anna Kingsley, Luke Mackenzie and Hannah Kitcher) if you have any questions.
A version of this article originally appeared in the matchday programme for the game against Rotherham United (played on Saturday 3 August 2019).