On Monday 9 December at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, the Dons Trust held an SGM with the primary purpose of bringing members up to date with the current situation on the financing of the new stadium and inviting them to discuss options available to us.
This came following an announcement from the Dons Trust Board (DTB) on 25 November of an £11 million funding gap for the first phase of the build of the new stadium at Plough Lane. Dons Trust Chair Mark Davis outlined different options, described as follows:
- “Hang on and hope for the best”: by continuing to attempt to obtain a loan or loans.
- “Bare-bones stadium”: build a scaled-back stadium with the resources currently at our disposal.
- “Further round of crowdfunding”: a further attempt to raise money from the community and fanbase.
- “Donations (and other fan funding)”: an appeal to the community and fanbase for donations, loans or seat debentures.
- “External investment”: to fund some, but potentially not all, of the gap by selling off part of the football club.
Fans and members should note that these options are not all mutually exclusive and are continuing to evolve. And since the DTB announced this news, members and fans have been suggesting to us other options for raising funding to address the shortfall. These include sale-and-leaseback schemes and new Dons Trust bond issues. Some members were in favour of external investment, but the overarching message from the majority at the meeting was that the club must pursue other avenues of funding before seeking external investment.
Overall, the discussion with fans and members at the SGM was constructive, and the DTB is grateful to all who attended and engaged in the discussion. If you were unable to attend, it is possible to watch the whole meeting via YouTube, thanks to the 9yrs Podcast team and view the slides presented here.
The DTB is committed to maintaining an open dialogue with Trust members and other fans on the financing issue, and we would like to encourage everyone who has a view on this to become a member of the Dons Trust to ensure that your view is heard.
At the start of the meeting, the chair of the Election Steering Group, John Dolan, announced the results of the 2019 DTB election. Rejoining the DTB for another two-year term are Jane Lonsdale and the chair, Mark Davis. John also welcomed newly elected members Ed Leek, Graham Stacey and Tim Hillyer. Anne Williams has been elected for a one-year term as Rob Crane resigned midway through his term. I would like to take this brief opportunity to thank Rob for all he has done in his year as vice-chair of the DTB. He has been so open and generous with his time and support, and his departure is going to leave a big gap.
The DTB had received a Member’s Resolution for full disclosure on the departure of Wally Downes. After a vote from members in the room, the resolution was not passed as less than two-thirds of the votes were cast in favour. Visit thedonstrust.org/general-meetings to read the resolution in full.
We had scheduled two meetings for those who were unable to come to the SGM. Unfortunately, as very few signed up to attend it, we had to cancel the meeting that had been arranged for Thursday 12 December at Old Wimbledonians. We are, however, still hosting an open meeting this Monday, 16 December, at 7.30 pm in the main hall at the Mansel Road Centre in Wimbledon. We encourage all fans to come to this open meeting to talk to the DTB, ask questions, challenge us, and help us chart a way forward together.