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Tuesday 01 May 2012
The Dons moving forward: our financial future

If we are going to consolidate ourselves in the Football League and indeed move forward to League 1 we need to raise substantially more money for the playing budget.

This is in addition to the funds we need to find to improve our current stadium up to Football League standards and help pay the costs of keeping our proposed move back to Merton alive. Our commercial department does a very good job, but we have to do something more if we are serious about being a long-term Football League club. We do, of course, have a different business model and structure from other football clubs. Almost without exception, they have directors who put substantial sums of money in to help subsidise the playing budget and keep their clubs afloat. In return, they get a seat on the board and are involved with all the big decisions. We elect our Dons Trust Board, which oversees our four-man Football Club Board on behalf of you, our supporters.

The scale of our task is actually quite daunting. We know from figures produced by the Football League that we have the fourth lowest playing budget in League 2. Last season, we started with only around the 14th highest budget in the Conference. Terry, his management team, and the players, highly over-performed then to take us up. But we cannot expect them to keep doing this as we have found out this season. For an example of what we are up against, I understand that Swindon’s wage bill is nearly four times ours, while Bristol Rovers and Rotherham’s are double, and the later two did not even made the play-offs. One chairman told me that he has put £1 million in this season to enhance the playing budget, not to mention the funding for a new stadium.

So what more can we do within our structure to raise more money and wouldn’t mean giving up control of our club? I was given the task by the Dons Trust Board of coming up with some ideas and here are some of the initial ones which we looked at during the last Dons Trust board meeting.

Increasing the number of Vice-Presidents who pay £50,000 a year
I realise that most supporters are nowhere near being able to afford that sort of money, but we don’t need too many to make a real difference. For those who can afford it, this it is a great way to help the club. We are also looking at possibly creating a Life Vice-Presidents category.

Creating another couple of tiers below the Vice-Presidents
One provisionally called ‘Associate Director’ and another to replace the old 1889 club. The former would have access to the board room and be able to attend a Football Club Board meeting once in a while but their role would be strictly non-executive and would not give them any voting rights. The latter would cost around £1,000 a year and would help bring together supporters that want to help the club a bit more on the financial front than just buying a season ticket.

Encouraging you our supporters to leave the Club money when you die in your will
You can then proudly tell us all that you are a "Womble ‘till I die.. and a good bit longer too!

Form a Financial Advisory Group
This would meet every three months or so to brainstorm ideas on raising more money. It would include creative people who have been successful in business.

Create a group called Wimbledon Angels
This would be for people who do not support the club or at least don’t come to games very often, but they would like to help the club from afar.

These are some initial ideas, if you have any feedback or indeed any suggestions which you feel are practical then please e-mail here