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Friday 29 June 2012
What’s happening at Kingsmeadow, 2012 – number 2

As we edge closer to the new season, the official website brings you up to date with what’s been happening at AFC Wimbledon. In particular, we concentrate on a behind-the-scenes look at items that have not been published elsewhere during the close season.

Football

We are targeting a number of specific players to boost Terry Brown’s squad and have been holding talks with them this week. Terry is pretty relaxed about the process of assembling a quality squad for next season. In terms of experienced senior players, we are only looking for a centre-back as we signed Warren Cummings earlier today. However, we also need to add another goalkeeper and a young centre-back. Our recent signing Stacy Long was also at the Cherry Red Records Stadium today and he this afternoon completed the formalities of his medical, which we could not quite fit in around his holidays earlier this month.

Jason Moriarty conducted a second round of fitness tests yesterday with the players who were away on holiday when the previous session was held. Stacy was one of the players put through his paces at our New Malden training base and it is hoped that all our squad are eager to get back into pre-season training, which starts on Monday.

Members of the AFC Wimbledon Football Club Board will attend our training complex next Friday to introduce themselves to the first-team squad. Board members will meet with the whole squad, including our new players, and talk about what is expected from them in terms of their behaviour as ambassadors for the club. There will be a brief summary of the history of AFC Wimbledon, including a reminder that we are a fans-owned club, and players will be informed about their community involvement and issued with a code of conduct.

Stadium

A bit more work needs to be done next week before the builders can start constructing the Kingston Road End stand. Earlier this week, the first stages of concrete pouring took place, with the rest to be completed next week. A regular progress meeting with the contractors took place earlier today and while everyone is aware that the timetable is extremely tight they said they were confident that we will have our new stand ready for use on 18 August, subject to any unexpected developments of course.

The results are now being considered after the second of our consultation meetings about the development of the current stadium. This covers a wide range of issues but particularly improvements to the East Stand. The results of the two consultation meetings and other feedback will be summarised and presented to the Dons Trust Board at its next meeting on 11 July, along with key recommendations.

In terms of our aim to move to a new stadium, the club recently appointed an advisor to assess progress and give advice and support on how best to make progress. On Wednesday, the football club board reviewed the current position and agreed a number of steps designed to ensure that the process is accelerated.

New website

Club staff were today visited by members of the Football League Interactive team, who ran them through a training programme. This is a vital part of the training schedule as it will offer feedback for the project team as we aim to launch a new state-of-the-art website.

Club

Six representatives from AFC Wimbledon attended a reception at Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron as a follow-on from the club receiving a coveted Big Society Award from the government in March. Kate Terrierre (Dons Trust Board member), Clive Yelf (Community Volunteer), Tim Hillyer (Volunteer leader of the merchandise team), Sean McLaughlin (Dons Trust Board member), Ivor Heller (Commercial Director) and Erik Samuelson (Chief Executive) met the prime minister before joining the other award winning teams to listen to his speech extolling the virtues of voluntary, community-based organisations. This award is yet another honour for the club and is a tribute to the fantastic work done by everyone who volunteers.

Talking of volunteers, tomorrow sees the start of the second of our annual clean-up weekends at the Cherry Red Records Stadium as we gear up for the start of pre-season. No doubt we will again have an excellent turnout from our volunteers and the club are always grateful for their assistance. AFC Wimbledon’s Under-18 squad will be bringing some youthful exuberance to the operation by helping to do essential jobs around the ground. On the same day, members of the club’s medical team will be conducting rehearsals inside the stadium. In collaboration with the St John Ambulance, they will be simulating various emergencies that could crop up at a future match. For example, a player crashing into a barrier at the Tempest End or a supporter falling down steps. The session also takes in very serious situations, such as a supporter choking and a player having a heart attack. Who knows, the rehearsals could even save a life in the future? The fast reactions of medical staff at White Hart Lane last season helped save Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba and that raised awareness all over the country. The medical team at AFC Wimbledon is making sure we are as prepared as possible.

During the close season a lot of fairly routine but demanding work continues. For example, a substantial amount of time has been spent completing Football League questionnaires and the amount of paperwork that has to be completed would no doubt surprise some supporters. The questionnaires have included information about ground capacity, pay-roll figures and the salary capping protocol. As part of the last of these, we have to submit extracts of our budget to calculate how much we are allowed to spend on players’ wages. The rules state that no more than 55 per cent of gate money and 55 per cent of the net profit on areas such as merchandising, bar takings and commercial income, plus all of any net transfer income, can be spent on players’ wages. Any club which spends more than the calculated amount is subjected to a player registration embargo but the figures show that we are within the laid-down limits.

Finally, supporters are already responding well to our 10-year anniversary exhibition match on Saturday, 4 August. The bidding is well underway for the online auction (see the link on the home page of the official website) that offers a unique chance for supporters to play alongside a host of AFC Wimbledon heroes. Held before Simon Bassey’s testimonial, which is AFC Wimbledon versus a West Ham XI, it promises to be a fantastic day of celebrations to mark a decade of the club.