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Sunday 05 June 2011
What's happening at Kingsmeadow, 2011 - number 3

The last week has been a catching-up exercise, dealing with the aftermath of the play-off final and getting to grips with a future in the Football League.

Fans will remember that we had some play-off final tickets to sell, and we’ve now submitted an analysis of the sales, plus the related cash, to the Conference. Early indications are that we will make a modest profit on the event. Our share of the net proceeds is 25%, from which we have to deduct the following: the additional wages paid to players and staff caused by the elongation of the season (wages for season 2010/11 were contracted to be paid only until the end of the normal season); promotion bonuses; subsidies of coaches and the offer of reduced merchandise prices (both of these being a response to concerns about the high cost of tickets for the final); additional hotel costs; and so on. However, better a modest profit and promotion than a larger profit but losing the penalty shoot-out!

The merchandise team has been in discussions with Premier Sports with a view to us producing a DVD of the play-off final and possibly also the semi-finals. We are also considering producing a short souvenir brochure to commemorate our promotion. We will make an announcement about these soon.

Before Terry and many of the squad flew off to Las Vegas, we held meetings with most of the players – some were already away on holiday. With most players retained under their options, there is no urgency to tie up the negotiations, and we will complete the process on Terry’s return. In the meantime we are pleased to have signed Max Porter, who was at Rushden & Diamonds last season and who we came close to signing two seasons ago. Agreement has been reached for terms with another targeted player, but he is away on holiday and can’t be signed until he returns. We will keep you up to date as things develop.

Much of our work has been concentrated on next season. Every two years we redesign the programme, which is now underway, and at the same time we are incorporating feedback from last season’s programme survey. We have now turned our attention to processing season ticket applications and renewals. This is likely to take about a week, and until then we can’t be sure how many STs we have sold.

We ask everyone to return their ST renewal form, even if they are five-year ST holders who have already paid for next season, as this allows us to ensure that their personal details are up to date. We ask the same of ST holders who are paying by direct debit. But not everyone has yet returned their renewal form, and until we’ve finished processing the forms we’ve actually received we can’t be sure how many five-year and direct-debit ST holders need to be added to the total number of forms we’ve received.

Having said that, our best guess is that we’ve already exceeded last season’s sales: we estimate that we’ve so far received about 2,300 applications and renewals. This figure includes a number of applications for seats that we won’t be able to fulfil, and we sense that the Tempest End will sell out, if it hasn’t already done so – we won’t be sure until we complete the processing. But please don’t ring up or call at the office to check the status of your application or renewal: we will be in touch with everyone who isn’t successful as soon as the situation becomes clear.

What is already clear is that there is demand for more seats than we have at present, and we are now looking at detailed planning for a new all-seater stand. In any event we’ll need to complete it before 1 May in our third season in the Football League, but we’d like to complete it much sooner.

First, however, we have to carry out the more urgent ground improvements which must be in place by the first game of next season. We explained in WHAK number 2 that we needed a ‘without prejudice’ letter from the Football Foundation, confirming that we wouldn’t disqualify ourselves from eligibility for a grant by starting work before our grant application had been processed. That letter was received early last week, and the work has since started. With a lead time of several weeks for the manufacture of the control room cabin, there isn’t a lot to see at the moment, but the preparatory work is under way, including installation of cabling for the CCTV.

On Monday 6 June we will hold our first project progress meeting, which will be followed immediately by a meeting with representatives of the Football League and the Football Licensing Authority. They will be looking for evidence that we will be able to comply with the ground requirements in good time. Now that we are a Football League club, Kingsmeadow needs to be a ‘designated stadium’, and this will be implemented by government legislation. So far as we can tell, the main effect is that the stadium will need a safety certificate issued by our local authority – Kingston. We already have a safety certificate from Kingston, so we are awaiting news of how the safety certificate for a designated ground might differ.

Later this week, David Charles and Erik Samuelson will attend the Football League conference and the AGM, which will be held in Cyprus on Friday, preceded by a day of meetings. At the AGM the club should be formally elected to the League. David and Erik fly back late on Friday and head straight off for the Football Conference AGM, on Saturday, where we will formally leave the Conference. The Conference AGM will be followed by the awards and dinner, which are being held at Celtic Manor, where David and Erik will be joined by club and Trust representatives to celebrate our promotion and say our farewells to the many friends we have made over the past three years.

Much else is now under way. Trials for Academy players are being held; work aimed at deciding whether to seek to attain Centre of Excellence status by next season continues; pre-season friendlies are being formalised; the launch date of the new third strip will be announced soon, as well as a date for a ‘Meet the (Football League) Manager’; and the budget for 2011/12 is being finalised.

Finally, our congratulations to the fundraising team, led by Mark Davis, for beating their targets for the current year, aided by the exceptional efforts of the Velo & Blue team, who arrived at Paris on Saturday 4 June. They are close to reaching their target of £7,000 to pay for the improvement to the disabled viewing facilities at the Kingston Road end of the Paul Strank Stand.