The Dons Trust AFC Wimbledon Club Owners10th May Dons Trust Board meeting

We met as a board on the 11th May at 18:00 at Plough Lane. 

After a couple of years of mostly virtual meetings, we now meet face-to-face by default on a monthly basis. This month, one member, James Macdonald, sent his apologies as he was unable to be there.  

We regularly rotate the agenda to ensure that each area gets an opportunity to be discussed. The meeting always opens with the actions list (stemming from the last board meeting). This month, some of those issues included the confirmation that we’re not currently looking to recruit or coopt a new DT Board member. We discussed the work being done by a volunteer to help us to locate and create a full record of all the actions and resolutions passed by the various DT Boards since our foundation in 2001, in order that we can ensure what can be made public is made available and in a form that can be accessed. Vice Chair (and Treasurer) Michele Little is following this up. 

We also covered ‘Strategic Direction’, with the principal focus being a discussion of the joint meeting between the DT board and AFCW PLC board in April, which also included MD Danny Macklin and Head of Football Craig Cope. One of the major purposes of the meeting was the basic need to ensure everyone knows each other more formally, but also to hear what Danny and Craig are doing to make improvements across the club, and to discuss future plans for the club, its development and to think about budget and other planning over the next two seasons.  

The budget for next season was also discussed. The PLC board met on Sunday (7th May) and agreed the annual club budget to put in front of the DTB for its approval (this is one of the reserved powers under the new rules governing the DT’s ownership of the club.) The DTB’s PLC board representatives had already been through the budget, and the Oversight Theme Group had met the day before to discuss it. There were some questions about the budget from the DT Board, including around management of the debt, ensuring a competitive playing budget and other issues. The budget was passed unanimously. That has been fed-back to Danny, Craig and the PLC board, with thanks for all the hard work that has gone into it.  

One of the important things is to get a better, and more early view, of the budgets and plans for the following couple of years, and the PLC is hoping to be able to see a more detailed update on that in the near future.  

All of the theme groups are discussed at every board meeting, rotated to ensure all of them are given a decent amount of time to cover. The Community Theme Group (Chaired by Kevin Rye) as usual reported on the existing relationships with organisations like The FSA, but the focus was about the consultation that is planned to happen commence over the coming months. The consultation is being developed as a formal process that will bring members together at a series of events (mostly in person at Plough Lane, but one online as well) to discuss issues around equity, bond/debt repayment, and other issues related to ownership. There will also be further consultation which will see us collaborate with the club to seek wider insight from DT members and fans. Put simply, the aim is to understand our fans better, which is particularly important given the return home, our desire to grow the membership of The Dons Trust, as well as the club’s need to grow its presence and appeal. The broad plans for the programme was approved unanimously and will be kicking off very soon in the early summer, running until early next season/early Autumn. Keep an eye out for updates. 

Culture and Mission theme group (Richard Shepherd) has most recently been concerned with the DTB/PLC Board joint awayday (see above), so their report concerned any actions coming from that.  

The report from Member Services and Engagement theme group (James Macdonald) mostly concerned the moving of the DT membership system over to the joint system with the club. This is being led by long-standing Membership Secretary, John Stembridge, and supported by board members & the theme group. The transition should be finished in the closed-season. There was also a discussion of how the new Junior Dons offer is transitioning to the new club scheme.  

The Oversight Group (Kris Stewart) reported on the budget discussions. 

The Board also had a conversation about the Fans Forum, following a lot of feedback from members. We had a useful discussion, including the report that the club put out earlier in the day. This report was welcomed by the board, and was particularly pleased to see the passage at the end of the report which said: 

‘An ongoing theme in recent weeks, (including a few questions sent in before the Fans’ Forum), focussed on our ability or willingness to communicate with fans on an ongoing basis throughout the season. The Club has tried to provide regular updates but is clearly not ‘hitting the mark’. 

‘The Club will commission a review of its communications strategy and tactics over the summer. This will be a combination of focus groups with fans and an external audit/viewpoint. We want to meet our fans’ expectations on this and other related areas and more on this will be shared at a later point.’