With the onset of COVID-19, we have entered a situation that none of us have encountered before in this country. Our thoughts are with those people who catch this illness, and those people who are worried about COVID-19 not only for themselves but for friends and family too. The current crisis will have major consequences for the way we live our lives over the coming weeks or months and, for the economy, potentially quite a lot longer.
Dons Trust members will be aware that the football season has been suspended. We wait to hear from the football authorities whether and when it will resume and what the ramifications will be for next season. I’m sure we all feel that the suspension of football has left a bit of a hole in our lives, but there are clearly more important things for us all to worry about at a time like this.
As well as working through the consequences for the Club on the playing field, there is also the question of whether construction projects such as our new stadium can keep going (as is the case at present) and whether we can complete the funding at a difficult time in the financial markets and for football.
The Club is also having to consider the immediate practical consequences of managing the office and stadium remotely and mitigating the financial consequences of loss of revenue. Undoubtedly, the financial measures announced by the EFL, and separately the Government, will be helpful in managing the short-term consequences.
The Dons Trust Board is liaising closely with Joe Palmer (AFC Wimbledon CEO) and his management team on all these matters. Inevitably, it will be a little bit of time before we have clarity on how things will play out but, with Joe, we will do our best to keep fans and members abreast.
The Dons Trust’s board members and officers are all volunteers. Many of us are having to work through a crisis situation in our own day-jobs and to manage the consequences for our families and ourselves, as well as overseeing the Trust and Club. Please bear with us while we adjust to these new circumstances. We are going to have to be pretty ruthless with the priorities we recently set ourselves as a board for 2020. Some of the things that looked to be ‘must-do’ only a week or two back will no doubt slip down into ‘nice-to-do’ or even deferred to 2021. There will be some disappointments in terms of what we achieve over the coming months, but it is better to manage that proactively rather than inadvertently let things fall by the wayside.
However, we will adapt to the new situation as best we can. On Wednesday, the Dons Trust Board held its monthly board meeting online, rather than face to face. It worked reasonably well, and no doubt we will get better at it over time. Thank you to those Dons Trust volunteers who have also been working remotely to support us.
I should pay tribute to those fans who’ve been active in the community in the current crisis, and in particular the Dons Local Action Group, who have been busy collecting and distributing provisions for the vulnerable. It’s impressive to see our fans showing such initiative and demonstrating what this Club offers to our community.
Finally, please stay safe and observe public advice on social distancing and self-isolation. For those who find the current situation challenging to their mental wellbeing, there are a number of resources you may wish to look at, such as:
On behalf of the Dons Trust Board Mark Davis, Chair