Plough LaneSolutions for season 20/21: We want your views

We’re facing some of the toughest challenges to ever confront football – ones that impact on every club, and not just ours.

Top of the list is how we replace our essential match-day income next season. The summer months are when all football clubs plan ahead for the new season. This is when we sort out player contracts and build a squad for the campaign ahead. The money we receive from season ticket sales is vital to see us through this intensely-important period.

However, the lingering coronavirus threat means none of us know when fans will be allowed back into stadiums. We should be issuing season tickets right now – especially as we prepare for life back at Plough Lane – but how can we confidently do so if fans aren’t allowed to see games?  Fans responded amazingly last month by not asking for a refund for the current season, the last thing we want is to ask everyone to do that again and issue refunds for the matches nobody could attend. The club needs budget certainty so that we can plan and prepare for next season without the risk that our spending may have to be returned and therefore place the club in an even more difficult situation – so we won’t be selling season tickets until we know when the season will start.

We are also acutely aware that fans have already dug so deeply this past year via Seedrs and the Bond to help support the new stadium financing – so whatever solution we come up with, it needs to offer value and to be affordable.

So, we’d like to propose to you a solution, a solution that we are in a unique position to sell over most other clubs because we’re going into a new stadium. We’ve spent the last month working with several fans to come up with a seat debenture scheme that, we believe, has many benefits, but unlike so many other debentures – won’t cost the earth.

What is a debenture? Put simply, when you buy a debenture, you buy the first right to use a particular seat for a period of 10 years. You can only use that seat, however, if you either purchase a season ticket – or a matchday ticket. Nobody else can buy a season ticket for your seat – but if you choose not to attend a game, then we can sell your seat to someone else who wants to see that particular match. At a time when we’re not yet selling season tickets, that means debenture holders get the first choice of specific seats in the new stadium, other than those provisionally allocated to current 19/20 season ticket holders.

Not only will it guarantee your seat for 10 years, you will also get a discount on your season ticket for that time too.  What’s more you’ll get 11 seasons for the price of 10.  Because there is so much uncertainty over when next season will start, you’ll get it for free and it won’t count as one of the 10 years on your debenture. Not only that, once we know when fans can return to football, we will give you a 50% reduction on the cost of a season ticket, no matter what the pro rata price will be at the time. It’s important that we make your debenture and corresponding season ticket more affordable.

And if that wasn’t enough, all debenture holders will be get a free cardboard cut out of themselves to represent them in the stadium when games are behind closed doors, placed in your chosen seat.

Most of all, though, it would help give us the financial lifeline we need to get us through season 2020/2021 – a lifeline many other clubs won’t be fortunate enough to have. We are budgeting to raise £1 million from this scheme to support a basic playing budget and other essential operations for the coming season. We really need your help to achieve this figure.

The following document spells out how a Dons Debenture scheme would work. Your job is to tell us what you think. We need to hear your views, as fans and owners, to make certain we all agree on the best way forward.

Debenture Package highlights

Your place is guaranteed

  • The Dons Debenture secures your seat for 10 years – PLUS the forthcoming season, which we are  including for FREE. In effect, that totals 11 years;
  • If you buy a debenture, you can then choose to either purchase a season ticket – or simply pay to watch matches on a game-by-game basis with a priority period to buy;
  • Debentures will be offered in order of priority – meaning our most loyal fans get first pick.

Even if you don’t choose to buy a debenture, as a current season ticket holder, your place in the stadium is guaranteed before any current non season ticket holder and nobody can move you from your allocated place.

Value for money

  • Buy a debenture and you’ll get five per cent off season-ticket prices for the next 10 years;
  • Because next season is so uncertain, every Debenture holder will get FIFTY per cent off the cost of a season ticket – once we know when fans can return to football; (Hospitality seats would receive a 25% discount due to the higher costs involved with the package)
  • It’s family-friendly – Debenture price for under 18s is discounted by 50% of the full adult price.
  • It’s a Debenture – but without a debenture price tag. Prices start from £45 per month on a direct debit.

Being Together

There will be a number of options to allow you to sit together:

  • Utilising the new groups booking system, current season ticket holders will be able to create bigger groups with their fellow season ticket holders
  • Current season ticket holders will have the ability to purchase debentures for their immediate family members (parents and children) even if they are not currently a season ticket holder

Flexibility

  • Debenture holders can change their seat or stand at the end of each season;
  • A Debenture can be transferred to another person at any point during the term;
  • If you don’t want to buy a season ticket, you can simply pay to watch matches on a game-by-game basis with a priority period to buy.

Price

  • All prices include VAT;
  • You can pay by direct debit over the first 12 months of your debenture term to spread the cost; Under a DD, prices would start at £45 per month for the lowest priced adult debenture.

 

Detail of standard and hospitality debenture

Stand Adult Child (under 18)
East and South stands £500 £250
West stand £600 £300
Hospitality level £1,000 £500

Hospitality debenture holders will have to purchase one of our hospitality packages – either on a match-by-match basis, or as a hospitality season ticket.

Debenture process and launch

  • All available packages and prices for season 2020/21 released by w/c 29th June
  • All fans will be asked to complete their online registration prior to Debentures going on sale due to the club changing to a new and more user friendly ticketing system
  • Debentures will go on sale in August

The proposed priority for buying a Debenture and choosing your seat will be as follows:

  • Current Season Ticket holders who have had a season ticket for 8 or more years
  • Current Season Ticket holder show have had a season ticket for 7 or less years
  • Dons Trust Members, Seedrs investors, Plough Lane Bond holders and PLC Shareholders
  • General sale

What’s next?

Please read our Q&A below which relates to the proposed Debenture scheme.

Give us your feedback. We’d like to know your opinion and if you’d be interested in buying a Debenture for yourself and/or your friends and family.

Please participate in our survey by CLICKING HERE

*Please note that you will be asked for your email address to submit your vote at the end of the survey. We do that so the system can identify each voter, makes sure that only one vote is submitted per person and all votes are quantifiable and meaningful.

Proposed Debenture Scheme Q&A

When will I be able to buy a Debenture?

If fans indicate a motivation to buy, we would be looking at Debenture sales from the beginning of August – this is when we are looking to launch our new ticketing platform.

Why is the club not selling Season Tickets?

With the current Covid-19 crisis there is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen next season. As a club we need to have budget certainty to be able to plan effectively for next season. We should be issuing season tickets right now – especially as we prepare for life back at Plough Lane – but how can we if fans aren’t allowed to see games? If we had to issue refunds that could leave a significant funding gap so we want to provide fans with a product that has ongoing value and gives the club budget certainty.

When will the club be detailing the new season ticket options?

The club will release information on all available packages and prices for next season week commencing 29th June. This will outline season ticket, memberships and hospitality.

What if I’m a current Season Ticket holder but don’t want to buy a Debenture?

We want to ensure that the debenture scheme does not impact current seating arrangements for season ticket holders. Therefore we will ensure that all current season ticket holders are allocated a like-for-like seat where possible.

Paul Strank stand season ticket holders will be allocated a seat in the west stand with a similar seating position. This includes a similar view and location to what they had at The Cherry Red Records stadium surrounded by the same group of people. If, for example, you are currently a season ticket holder in the top row of the Paul Strank stand at The Cherry Red Records stadium, then you’ll get a seat 9 rows back from the front, at a broadly equivalent location along the pitch, at the new stadium. But the new west stand has up to 18 rows. So, debenture holders will get the first choice on seats that haven’t been set aside for season ticket holders, including those in the rows further back from the pitch.

We appreciate that there will be no equivalent stand for John Green season ticket holders, as the north end will now be away section seating, therefore they will be allocated a secured seat in the middle sections of the east stand with a similar seating layout to what they had at The Cherry Red Records stadium. Again, starting from the front, running 9 rows back. The east stand will have 11 rows in most places. Rygas stand season ticket holders will also be allocated seats in the East stand.

If you are in the Chemflow stand you will now have to be allocated an individual seat number and row in the South Stand as this stand will no longer be a terrace, it will be seated or if possible, safe standing. We will be liaising with Chemflow season ticket holders in order to create a situation that maintains the culture and the atmosphere of that stand and to find the best solution for allocating seats, as there are no like for like allocations to be transferred over to the new stand.

CURRENT SEASON TICKET HOLDERS CANNOT BE DISPLACED FROM THEIR ALLOCATED SEATS BY A DEBENTURE HOLDER OR A CURRENT NON SEASON TICKET HOLDER

Can I buy a debenture if I would like to stay in my allocated seat?

Yes, absolutely. There are still many benefits including a season ticket discount for the forthcoming season of 50% and then 5% for the following 10 years. You will also be guaranteeing the fact your seat is guaranteed for 10 years, even if you don’t buy a season ticket.

What if I want to move to a different seat from the one that was assigned to me?

You will be able to move seat straight away if you are purchasing a debenture.

If you are not purchasing a debenture you will have to wait until season tickets go on sale then current season ticket holders will have the priority to move seats and purchase their tickets in a different location, subject to availability.

Will I be able to see a mock-up of the stadium and view before I select my seat?

Absolutely yes. We are creating a full stadium seat map of the stadium so you will be able to see and pick specific seats.

How much money will I save by buying a debenture?

The 5% discount over 10 years combined with the 50% discount on next season’s season ticket could see up to 80% of the cost of the debenture returned, depending on when fans can return to the stadium. This also equates to roughly one year’s free season ticket over the 10 year term.

What happens to the seat of a season ticket holder who chooses to move elsewhere?

That seat becomes available to other people – whether as a debenture or (once on sale) a season ticket. [[We will maintain a live online map of the seats that are available for purchase.]]

Is the debenture worth buying as there might not be many places to move to?

We will not have the same capacity issues that we had at The Cherry Red Records stadium. We can sell to all our existing season ticket holders and still have space for plenty of new debenture holders. In fact, all our current season ticket holders could fit into the west stand on its own! We also hope that we can bring in a whole lot more fans who haven’t been able to buy tickets at The Cherry Red Records stadium and provide crucial financial support now.

How many debentures will be available?

We don’t envisage selling any more than about 50-60% of seating capacity as debenture. It’s important to keep seats free to be able to continue to introduce new people to Wimbledon and give people their first experience.

What if I don’t want to move from my assigned seat but I would like to have new friends and family around me?

Unfortunately whilst you can keep your position you will not be able to displace other season ticket holders from their seats and you will therefore need to buy a debenture in a different location where there are unallocated seats for you and your fellow debenture holders by creating a new seating group through the new group booking system.

How do I ensure I can sit with my friends or family?

With the new group booking system you’ll be able to create a new seating group with other current season ticket holders but you will need to find a space large enough to accommodate your group where the seats are unallocated

It’s very important to us that families are no longer broken up and sat apart from each other due to capacity issues.  Therefore we are allowing the lead debenture holder in the family to purchase more than one debenture for immediate family members, for example an additional child and partner, even if they are not current season ticket holders. Likewise they will need to find a space with unallocated seats to accommodate the size of their group. If families are keen to increase their group to include extended family members they will need to utilise the new group booking system but they will not be able to buy a debenture for members of their extended family who are currently non season ticket holders.

What if I can’t remember how long I’ve been a season ticket holder for?

The number of years someone had been a season ticket holder for is counted as a total, not consecutive years.

We will email all fans in advance of any sales to let them know which priority group (and the sales window dates) they are in.

I’m an accessibility season ticket holder, can I buy a debenture?

Yes, all the same rules apply to season ticket holders with accessibility needs. We will also reserve the row directly in front (or behind in the case of east and south stands) of the wheelchair and ambulant seats to ensure that these season ticket holders have the opportunity to sit with family members.

I’m not sure about being locked in for a 10 year term, why should I buy a debenture?

As part of having rights to a particular seat for 10 years, you will be allowed to transfer that seat and its rights at any point during the term to anyone you wish, should you choose to.

You are also not required to always buy a season ticket every season throughout the term. You can choose to take a break and buy on a match by match basis. This may be useful if you are planning to go to university or are going to work abroad for a period of time. You will still have the rights to that seat for 10 years so can come back to it at any point during that term. You cannot however, pause the scheme and reengage it, adding on the years that it was paused for.

If there are a lot of people interested in buying a debenture within the top priority group (season ticket holders that have had a season ticket for over 8 years), how will priority be assigned amongst this group and within each other group?

Debentures within a priority group will be sold on a first come first served basis.

If I’d like to occasionally bring friends to a game, how will I be able to sit with them if there are no spare seats next to my seat?

All season ticket holders will be able swap their seat on a match by match basis to another unallocated seat within the stadium at the same or lesser level free of charge. Their friend will then be able to purchase the adjoining seat(s). By doing this, you will be giving up your seat for resale by the club for that particular match.

If there are other events at the stadium, as a debenture holder, will I get any priority access to those?

Along with long term season ticket holders, you will have priority to buy for all cup matches, but will have the added benefit of having priority to buy for other non football events that may be held in the stadium in the future – thought this may not be in your chosen debenture seat.

What is the order of priority for buying a debenture?

The proposed priority for buying a Debenture and choosing your seat will be as follows:

  • Current Season Ticket holders who have had a season ticket for 8 or more years
  • Current Season Ticket holder show have had a season ticket for 7 or less years
  • Dons Trust Members, Seedrs investors, Plough Lane Bond holders and PLC Shareholders
  • General sale

How does hospitality debenture work?

When you purchase a hospitality debenture the seats are linked to a particular hospitality lounge and package, so before you buy a hospitality debenture you will need to decide which hospitality package you’d like to have.

Don’t worry, you will not be locked in to that lounge for the duration of your term, you can transfer to a different lounge at the end of each season if you wish, subject to availability. However it’s important to note that you cannot buy seat only at hospitality level. In other words, if you haven’t bought a hospitality season ticket, and you wish to take up your seat for a particular match, then you will have to buy the corresponding hospitality package for that match. You cannot buy the seat alone.

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