On Wednesday 18 August 2021, the Dons Trust Board (DTB) gathered via Microsoft Teams for its regular monthly meeting. This is a summary of matters discussed, pending publication of full minutes.
Attendees were as follows:
From the Dons Trust Board (DTB): Xavier Wiggins, Jane Lonsdale, Niall Couper, Hannah Kitcher, Luke Mackenzie, Graham Stacey, Tim Hillyer, Charlie Talbot
Apologies: Ed Leek
Also in attendance: Secretary – David Growns, Treasurer – Michele Little, Minute-taker – Conor Daly, Communications Assistant – Matt Stockbridge
The meeting kicked off with the DTB unanimously extending a huge vote of thanks to all the staff and volunteers who have worked so hard in difficult circumstances to make sure that the club has successfully completed and passed each of the Plough Lane test events. Ongoing, the Board agreed that at least two members of the DTB will be in attendance at the DTB kiosk (in the fans zone behind the South Stand) at the ground on match days.
The minutes from the 21 July meeting were agreed as a faithful representation of the discussion and will be published in due course.
It was then confirmed that after the wider staff meeting in July, Jane, Xavier, Anita (Head of HR) and Joe (CEO) had met several times. The five values that were agreed on the day have been defined further by staff and DTB and eight areas of action had been agreed. The advert for the social media group (Volunteers wanted for Social Media Working Group – News – AFC Wimbledon) is now out and seeking volunteers to join a club and DTB rep.
There was then a conversation in response to the latest CEO report, ahead of the PLC meeting on 19 August. The Board recognised that there are a number of issues that have been raised, and agreed for these to be discussed at the PLC meeting.
Niall then provided an update on WiSH where progress is ongoing to sort out several administrative and legal issues. He also provided an update on the draft Fair Game manifesto where some more high level and wider interest and support has been made and will be subject to further announcements in the next few weeks.
The timetable for the election period for the DTB has been published in the matchday programme vs Gillingham and further communications will follow from the Election Steering Group. David pointed out that around 100 or so members rely on receiving all communications via traditional postal methods and the Board agreed to fund the cost of communications to these members, including reminders.
The Board then discussed the Club’s desire to run a cashless stadium. For the smaller transactions such as programmes and Golden Goals, it was recognised that the current system needs to reviewed. There were also concerns over how inclusive this strategy would be for many groups and unanimously agreed that this will be raised at the PLC board meeting.
The next point of order was around the issues with ticketing. The Board recognised the gravity and depth of concern of the fans and members, and these were discussed and noted. Thanks were given to the many volunteers as well as staff members who have stepped up to try and help in the short term. The issues meant that the club was trying to deal with in excess of 700 emails a day. Issues are wide ranging covering season tickets, one-off tickets, applying discounts, printing and payments. It was agreed the issues will be raised as a matter of urgency at the upcoming PLC board meeting where a clear strategy to manage the immediate issues will be discussed before commissioning a wider independent review of how the present issues have occurred and can be avoided in the future.
The Board then discussed the club’s communications strategy and its management. It was agreed that this would be a key discussion point for the upcoming PLC board meeting.
The club has finished drafting the five-year business plan and this has been reviewed and approved by the finance committee and boards. The finance committee and club are investigating all available avenues for refinancing the MSP loan (up to £4.6m) by April 2022, including the contributions from 25-year season tickets and the continuing availability of Plough Lane Bonds. These plans will be used in discussions with lenders and also in discussions with any minority investors interested in the remaining equity still available (approved by members prior to the Seedrs campaign). Whilst the sale of equity up to the limit established by members (<25% of voting capital) is already approved, it was reiterated and agreed by all board members that should the terms of any agreement with a minority investor include the right to nominate a representative on the board then this would be brought to the members for approval.
Jane noted that the response to the advert for additional administration support at the club had received many applications and interviews would be starting next week. There was a wide agreement that there needs to be a full review of staffing and resources in particular given the issues around ticketing over the last few weeks. Again, this will be raised at the PLC board meeting.
As part of the Any Other Business discussion the Board agreed the dates of the next SGM (14 October) and the AGM 16 December 2021. It was agreed that the SGM would be hybrid and voting online and “in the room” would be investigated. Members would be reminded that any resolutions can be sent in at any time so they can be put to the next general meeting.
The DTB also discussed the next round of questions for members as part of the strategy review. The DTB will be sent the full list of questions for the second survey to review this week ahead of them being circulated to members.