Dons Trust election: what matters to you

The other week I wrote that I was going to stand for election to the Dons Trust board and asked what you think should be the big issues in this election. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond.

I found it difficult to fit into an 800-word election manifesto everything that I wanted to say, let alone fitting it into the 120-word version that will appear in the matchday programme, so I could cover very little of what people raised. But your responses gave me an insight into what people are thinking about at the moment and the issues that concern them, so a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who responded.

What people said

I can’t claim that the responses are necessarily representative of the wider fanbase, but I think it was a useful exercise to open up the floor to people and hear what their concerns are. All would need further consultation to discover how widespread the concern is and to find out the details of precisely why it concerns people, and what we collectively, as a fanbase, would like done about it, so for the moment these can at best be considered ‘pointers’.

In no particular order, the issues raised were:

  • Views against the 80% season ticket proposal, along with ‘I’m not bothered by it’ responses.

  • Related to the above, a query about what happens if you return your season ticket but the match is then postponed: do you automatically regain your ticket?

  • A suggestion to use more surveys rather than discuss things so much in Trust meetings.

  • A query: what is our purpose? (As an aside, I understand that the existing Trust board will soon be doing a review of the Trust and the club’s ‘vision’, which I’d urge everyone to take part in.)

  • Issues in the John Green stand: complaints about both stewarding and supporter behaviour.

  • Whether we should have a ‘singing block’ in the new stadium to help the atmosphere.

  • General concerns about the transition to the new stadium.

  • Concerns about a loss of momentum on the pitch.

  • Concerns about the accountability of the club to the Dons Trust board.

  • A desire for better communication.

  • Worries about losing our soul and ‘fan power’ in the new stadium.

  • A comment about the Trust Webjam, saying that they prefer to be able to access everything in one place.

  • Concerns about transport to the new stadium.

  • Queries about chief operating officer Joe Palmer’s role at the club and the lack of information about it.

  • The fact that disabled seats at Kingsmeadow aren’t pre-allocated.

  • Concerns about disabled parking and access to the new stadium.

That last point was a real eye opener to me. I am very worried if any of our supporters with mobility issues are already suffering emotional distress because they are resigned to not being able to access our new stadium. I suspect the reality will be far, far different and that they will be able to access the stadium with no issues, but this is perhaps something that the club needs to reassure people about sooner rather than later. Given where we are in the development timeline, it must be easy for the club to become focused on ‘the big picture’, thinking that details such as the arrangements for getting fans from drop-off points to their seats can be left until comparatively late in the day. But it does show how individuals can perhaps end up feeling ‘left behind’ as the project progresses.

How people responded

The vast majority of the responses were in the club’s unofficial Facebook group. Only a couple were in response to a post I did on my Twitter account. That didn’t surprise me particularly: the Facebook group has far more active members than I have Twitter followers, and it’s an obvious place for AFC Wimbledon fans to hang out. But I wonder how the response rates might have varied if such an appeal for feedback was made via the Trust’s Twitter account or, even more so, via the club’s Twitter account – I suspect there’d have been far more responses as the appeal would have been reaching the right audience in a way that my own personal account can’t.

I was a little bit surprised that nobody posted their response as a comment on the original blog article, but the number of visitors to my site increased dramatically so I know people were visiting it. Most visitors (70%) used a mobile phone to access the blog article, while 20% used a desktop computer and 10% a tablet.

Next steps

I also received feedback about my draft manifesto, which I was grateful for. The nomination forms and manifestos have now been submitted, so I guess I should hold fire on publishing my final manifesto until it is officially released to members, along with those of the other candidates. This should happen ‘as soon as possible’ after Sunday 21 October, according to the timetable on the Dons Trust website. After that:

  • Candidates’ ‘mini manifestos’ should be in the Luton Town programme on Saturday 27 October.

  • Voting forms will be sent to Trust members around Saturday 10 November.

  • Voting closes at 11:59 pm on Friday 30 November.

  • The result will be announced as soon as possible after counting, although the timeline doesn’t mention when counting will take place.

One of the (very valid) points made in response to my draft manifesto was that I hadn’t said how members who are offline could contact me. In response I’ve decided that, rather than walk around before forthcoming matches talking to people and hearing their views, which is what I’d ideally like to do, I will instead stay near the Dons Trust kiosk so that those offline fans know for sure where I will be. So if you have any questions or comments for me, please do come and ask them: it’d be good to meet you! (However, I won’t be at the Shrewsbury match as I’ll be on a long-booked family holiday abroad.)

Alternatively you can contact me on Twitter, contact me in the unofficial club Facebook group, or email vote@robcrane.net

I’m told we will have a contested election this year, so please do get involved and help ensure that the elected board represents your views.