The Dons Trust AFC Wimbledon Club OwnersDons Trust Board meeting 20 Jan 2021 – summary

On Wednesday 20 January 2021, the Dons Trust Board (DTB) gathered via Teams for its regular monthly meeting. An additional meeting was convened on Thursday 28 January to allow enough time to cover all agenda points. This is a summary of matters discussed, pending publication of full minutes.

Attendees across both meetings were as follows:

  • From the Football Club Board (FCB): CEO – Joe Palmer, Financial Controller – Tom Rawcliffe
  • From the Dons Trust Board (DTB): Xavier Wiggins, Jane Lonsdale, Charlie Talbot, Niall Couper, Tim Hillyer, Hannah Kitcher, Ed Leek, Luke Mackenzie, Graham Stacey
  • Also in attendance: Secretary – David Growns, Minute-taker – Conor Daly, Communications Assistant – Matt Stockbridge, Treasurer – Michele Little

The first order of business discussed was the current form of the first team. This was of concern to all members of both boards, and indeed everyone associated with the club. The DTB discussed the league position, recent performance and the factors playing into that. The DTB discussed possible outcomes and the financial impacts of those.

The conversation then moved on to finance with Jane kicking things off by acknowledging that after two and a half years of incredibly hard work, Tom Rawcliffe was leaving the club. The Board thanked him for his contribution, delivered with humility and humour. Jane confirmed that the role had been advertised with the hope of starting interviews for a replacement within two weeks.

Luke noted that he was hopeful that the consultation period over a possible partnership with the London Broncos should be complete by the time of the next Dons Trust SGM.

Tom updated on the buildings insurance renegotiation which had led to significant savings. Joe mentioned that a change in our strategy with Customer Relationship Marketing and using a tool called Alphametrics, we have a database of contacts of around 30,000 individuals which should improve the club’s reach.

There was broad discussion around iFollow with Charlie commenting on the possibility of increased Commercial revenue opportunities through a better match day experience.

Joe reported there are still of number of supporters who have yet to complete payment for debentures and non-refundable season tickets. Given the wider economic situation there was unanimous agreement to extend the payment deadline.

The DTB then received an update on the stadium. Joe updated on the plans and costs for the East Wall. The next discussion centred around the opportunities for wider use of the stadium to maximise revenue opportunities.

Xavier then updated on the future club strategy. To clarify the direction of the club, this will cover six areas: Ethos, Football, Commercial, Community, One Club and Ambassadorial. Each would have it’s own leader and committee and would work in consultation with fans and the club to build a strategy for each.

The meeting then moved to a wide range of other business items starting with Ed mentioning the opportunity to consider inviting the original shareholders to transfer to Seedrs platform. This move, along with simplifying communications and administration would allow shareholder to access the secondary market. It was agreed, recognising that there may be some concern around voting rights, that communication would need to be clear. The Board also noted the aim of protecting the integrity of the Trust and encouraging more fans to join.

The Board then ratified the recent wider board appointments including the appointment of Xavier, Hannah and Charlie to the PLC Board who joined Jane and Ed as the DTB rBepresentatives.

The issue of age diversity was then discussed and in particular how to engage with younger fans. Previous attempts to involve those aged 18-25 and also how to engage with this group had met with mixed success. The Board agreed unanimously to look into ways of encouraging engagement on the Board by possibly co-opting someone on to the DTB in this age group.

Under AOB, Jane noted the recent work by the Dons Draw Administrator and Treasurer to assure that the Dons Draw was fully compliant with the lotteries licence and the move from Kingston to Merton. Jane also noted the focus of the 12-17 JDs working group to ensure ongoing engagement for the JDs whilst they were unable to attend games.

The DTB supported a proposal from the D&I working group to mark International Woman’s Day. The work, being undertaken by Lou Carton-Kelly and Hazel Potter to celebrate the work of Women of Wimbledon highlighting their vital contributions to the club both on and off the pitch. The project will be hosted on the DT website with communications in due course.

Jane confirmed that the club had achieved Disability Confidence Employer Status. This is a great achievement and can now be included on all communications for all new job listings. Jane also confirmed that club is submitting entries for three FSA awards. More details of these to follow next month.

David then confirmed that Matt Stockbridge had accepted the role of Communications Assistant to support the Board further and that the plan for more secretarial support was ongoing.

The final discussion centred around an update from Joe on the recent developments and progress on the stadium catering contract. It was agreed to communicate this wider when contracts had been signed.