It’s a busy and important time for AFC Wimbledon and the Dons Trust. With relegation confirmed on Saturday, thoughts now turn to a crucial summer ahead where – among other things – we will be looking to recruit a new first-team manager and a new club leadership.
But at the same time, the Dons Trust Board is taking the time to reflect on the season just gone with a focus on what could have been done better. Relegation hurts all of us, and if any good can come from it, it must be that we learn from it and ensure that we do everything possible to avoid a repeat in the future.
The Dons Trust Board is made up of different people, with different skills, experience and ideas. But one thing all board members have in common, from 2002 to today, is that we are fans. We love it when things are going well, and when they aren’t it hurts. We’ve made mistakes this season – we’re sure the Dons Trust Board has made mistakes every season. And both boards – the Dons Trust and PLC – are going into the summer recognising that we have lessons to learn.
Meanwhile, there’s a lot to be proud of as a club. A week ago we were pleased to share the very good news that the initial April 2022 refinancing target has been met. At the end of April, the MSP loan that was secured against the stadium was repaid, which means the club is free of any secured debt. This is down to the incredible efforts of Plough Lane Bond investors, a further sale of equity and a short-term loan from Cherry Red Records.
In December 2019 a lot of people didn’t think we’d get here.
We pay tribute again to the fantastic support of our fans, volunteers, members and investors for continuing to support the Trust and club’s fundraising and investment initiatives. Thanks go to all those at the club, on the finance committee, and on the boards, who have worked so hard to pass this latest hurdle. And a warm welcome to the club’s new International President, Ananth Nathan.
Another great piece of news was AFC Wimbledon being awarded “Community Club of the Season”. It’s a testament to the hard work of the AFC Wimbledon Foundation – the award recognising the huge number of volunteers, and our impact in the community. One of our club’s greatest strengths has always been the fact that we have so many talented people in the fan base who are willing to put in a lot of hard work, often with little to no reward.
We’d not have been able to achieve what we have without all the staff who work so hard at our club, day in and day out. Our thanks, as always, to them. Change is always difficult, and we’ve asked people to cope with a lot over recent times. We’re confident in Mick Buckley, our Interim Chair, who is keeping things moving following the departure of Joe Palmer. He has the clear remit to make recommendations to the Board about the kind of structure and leadership we will need to keep pushing the club forward, and we will be offering him our full support wherever needed.
The same goes for the quest to recruit a new first-team manager. Of course, this falls under the remit of the club – we have paid professionals who oversee the football side of things – but we will be there to offer support and oversight on behalf of the owners. What we can tell you is that we’re satisfied that a lot of groundwork has been laid in the background and that we expect things to move fairly quickly now. Look for updates from the club on all the usual channels.
Meanwhile, the next Dons Trust members’ meeting (formally an “SGM”) will take place at 19:30 on Wednesday 25 May 2022. It will be held here at the Cherry Red Records Stadium and streamed online. These meetings are at the heart of the Dons Trust Board’s accountability to the membership, so please do attend if you can, ask questions, and hold us to account.
We came from non-league. We had our club stolen and we remade it. We got back into the league, and we got back to Plough Lane. We’re made of strong stuff, and by sticking together, there’s little doubt we will rise again.