The Dons Trust AFC Wimbledon Club OwnersDons Trust Board meeting 21 October 2020 – summary

On Wednesday 21 October 2020, the Dons Trust Board (DTB) gathered via Teams for  its  regular  monthly meeting. This is a summary of matters discussed, pending publication of full minutes.

AFC Wimbledon  CEO, Joe Palmer,  and Financial Controller, Tom Rawcliffe, from the Football Club Board (FCB)  kicked off proceedings, presenting  the Football Club Report  covering player  expenditure, transfer strategy and preparations for the first game at Plough Lane and Club budgets.

There followed a debate between the FCB and DTB regarding a recent article in The Sun newspaper. It was mentioned that fans had written in and/or commented on various forums that the club should:

a) not seek coverage in The Sun and/or

b) not give exclusive stories to the media before the news was shared with owners.

There was reference to previous members’ resolutions (at the AGM on 10 December 2011) relating to The Sun, which are copied here:

Resolution 6: Debate on whether AFC Wimbledon should take part in partnerships or promotions with The Sun newspaper 

Resolution 7: That the Dons Trust Board should instruct AFC Wimbledon to enter into no partnerships or promotions with the Sun newspaper. 

At the end of the debate both resolutions failed to achieve enough votes to be passed. Ivor Heller then outlined a “compromise” that proposed to continue with the promotion in the future but to do it in such a way  as to avoid providing “free” advertising for the paper; an indicative show of hands was significantly in favour of this approach. 

The DTB recognise that some members will have strong views about this and following discussion, it was concluded that the previous resolutions had not instructed the Dons Trust (and therefore The Club) not to cooperate with The Sun and that if there was a strong feeling to the contrary, then members have the opportunity to put forward a new members’ resolution.

Furthermore, The Club maintained that no exclusives were shared in the article in question and clarified, in particular, that the survey on a name for the pub had been mentioned by Joe at previous meetings with members.

On a related note, it was pointed out that, at the recent SGM held online on 30 September 2020, there had been a members’ resolution (passed) stipulating that there should be a record of resolutions passed published by the DTB. The DTB cited the need for volunteers to help assist with this. Please get in touch with Chair, Mark Davis, if you are interested in supporting this via mark.davis@thedonstrust.org. You can see the results of all the resolutions raised at the SGM here.

The discussion then turned to the lessons learned from running the SGM online. General feedback was that it had been a success, and thanks were noted to Graham and Hannah for organising the event. Lessons learned included:

  • At future events, it would be good to have more voices from the DTB and in addition to having more voices, the workload was not fairly balanced – on the night there were seven resolutions and each should have had different board members representing them, taking the pressure off Mark. Mark had suggested this before but there had been few takers.
  • To this end, we would need to enlist volunteers to help with the tech and ‘live’ side of the event – Graham and Hannah had been doing this for various online events but that would prevent them being actively involved. Please get in touch with Hannah via hannah.kitcher@thedonstrust.org if you’re interested in supporting with the running of future online events.
  • In future, advise participants that – if they are intending to vote – it is best to join the event using a laptop (some phone users had reported difficulty voting).
  • The Dons Trust should publish the rules and procedures for voting online in advance of the meeting. The Chair should also reiterate the rules at the beginning of the meeting. Rules should also include setting a reasonable time limit for members to vote on each resolution and for the results of each vote to be displayed (recognising these won’t be final results as they would not take account of any proxy votes received (see below).
  • In future, the DTB should announce that results of proxies will be announced after the event as they need checking to see if people who have sent in a proxy have also voted online during the meeting (i.e. to prevent potential double voting).
  • Members seemed to enjoy pitching questions to the CEO, so should we, therefore, create other opportunities to chat with the CEO – a bit like Meet the Manager but Meet the CEO. This may also relieve some of the pressure on the DTB dealing with operational questions. Individual Meet the Player events were also mooted.
  • Must incorporate a comfort break – very important diversity and inclusion factor. Also, people don’t want to leave and miss something. This should be built into the agenda.

Thanks were noted to Graham and Hannah for organising the recent Meet the Manager event held on Thursday 15 October on behalf of the Club. A recording of the evening is available to watch here.

Talk moved on to the next Meet the DTB event, part of the fan engagement calendar, and a date was agreed – 7:30pm on Monday 2 November with Mark Davis and Tim Hillyer. It was agreed promotional material would be drafted and announced in the coming days. More information about the event and how to register is available here.

There followed a spirited Dons Trust membership discussion, based around a paper produced by Anna Kingsley proposing that DT membership is automatically incorporated into the price of a season ticket. It was pointed out that such a move might result in a less engaged membership but it was concluded that, as of next season, there should be a space on the season ticket renewal form to opt-in to Dons Trust membership, with more information about what Dons Trust membership is and means.

Club and Trust websites were also discussed, and it was noted that a database of such sites was being collated. It was mentioned that one particular site (the Heritage official site) was not functional and this needed to be fixed.

Other items on the night included the DT treasurer, Michele, sharing an update on the Trust’s financial status. It was mentioned that the new Dons Trust Plus membership had been a success, which was reflected in the DT Management Accounts for the quarter. Thanks were noted to Michele.

The meeting concluded at midnight.

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