Board revolution

Dons Trust Board chair Mark Davis explains the annual cycle of board activity.

After another Dons Trust Board election, the DTB has revolved again. This time last year we welcomed four newly elected members – Anna Kingsley, Hannah Kitcher, Luke Mackenzie and Rob Crane – and after this year’s election we have two brand-new members, Anne Williams and Graham Stacey, plus the returning Tim Hillyer, back after a year’s absence. If the DTB were a football team, that would be a pretty thorough overhaul of the dressing room – and, arguably, two co-optees short of a starting line-up!

Many thanks to departing members Roger Evans, Colin Dipple, Cormac van der Hoeven and Rob Crane. Roger, Colin and Cormac had served for three terms, two terms and one term, respectively. Their contributions, and their thoughtful but occasionally irreverent interventions, will be much missed. I’ll say more about Rob below.

It takes time for a board to establish a pattern following an election, so I thought today I’d explain the process. Once the election result is known, incoming members (having confirmed confidentiality procedures) are set up on our email system, get electronic access to DTB papers and receive an induction pack (updated this year by Jane Lonsdale). They then have an induction meeting with the chair, to give them a feel for how the Trust and club boards operate and bring them up to speed with current issues.

Thanks to the timing of meetings this year, Anne, Graham and Tim were able to attend the November DTB meeting as observers, and we squeezed in a further meeting before Christmas. They also participated attentively at the SGM held on 9 December. Unusually, we haven’t held our AGM yet; it will take place in the New Year, once the accounts are finalised.

We have already set dates for our monthly DTB meetings for 2020. As always, we will be supplementing these with an additional meeting in the New Year, at which we will discuss our priorities for the year. I have every confidence that we will yet again set ourselves too many of them! We also usually look at our collective skillset and decide whether we need to co-opt one or two additional people who have skills we lack. Last year, that led to us co-opting a financially savvy accountant (Ed Leek, now an elected member). This year, we’ll make sure there’s a social aspect too: we’ll doubtless have some disagreements over the next twelve months, so getting to know each other as people really matters.

Between now and January our secretary, David Growns, will be inviting DTB members to nominate themselves as chair and vice-chair. I intend to offer my services, but it will be for other board members to decide who they want. At this point, I’d like to pay tribute to Rob Crane, who until he stood down was our vice-chair in 2019 and took on countless tasks. Rob was a great sounding board, and I shall miss his advice.

An agenda item early in the New Year will be to consider a report from the Election Steering Group. Any issues that come up during the election are referred by the ESG to the secretary and to the board members who are not up for election. These issues often inform changes proposed for the following year’s election rules.

I look forward to seeing how the 2020 DTB settles down. It can take incoming members a few months to establish their personal style and to work out how best to deploy their energies. It’s the chair’s job to make them feel supported during that process.

I can’t pretend that 2019 was an easy year. Besides the interminable stresses and strains of planning for the new stadium, we had to deal with appointing a new club CEO, the departure and replacement of our first-team manager, and some pretty torrid spells in the relegation zone of League One. The DTB is not directly responsible for what happens on the pitch, but the performance of the first team affects the context and mood of every single thing that happens at AFC Wimbledon.

Finally, let me thank all our volunteers for their work in 2019 and you, our members, for your continued support. 2020 will bring fresh challenges. Let’s unite in facing those challenges together – and I wish you all a Happy New Year.