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Sunday 06 May 2012
From the Shrewsbury programme: launch of our new website

From time to time we reproduce articles from the programme which have not been reported elsewhere. In the following extract from the Shrewsbury programme, Erik Samuelson outlined the reasons for the launch of a Football League Interactive website in time for next season at AFC Wimbledon.

Two months from now, pre-season training for the 2012/13 campaign will be under way, with Terry Brown putting new recruits through their paces. As happens at any football club during the summer, there will be changes both on and off the pitch during the close season. A key transition for us at AFC Wimbledon will be to provide you with a better service to keep you up to date with what’s happening at the club.

We want to make sure you have access to breaking news from the training ground, and exclusive video interviews with the new signings who will be helping us towards the League 2 playoffs. This will all be done with the implementation of a Football League Interactive (FLi) website to replace the current official website. While the majority of Football League clubs have used the FLi website for a number of years, this summer sees the launch of a new updated version, and we have decided that this is the time for us to jump on board and start our second League 2 season with an online service that is easier to update – with the added bonus that it will be maintained centrally and we needn’t worry about its sustainability.

We expect to earn money from the website in two main ways. First, we will take a share of the earnings from click-throughs, the amount we earn depending on how many people view the site and how often. That’s one of the reasons we employed Chris Slavin – to make sure we keep the site fresh with new stories on a regular basis. Every time you visit the site to look at the fixtures, news announcements, Dons Trust updates, ticket information, club statements and so on, you will be earning money for the club.

The second way the club will earn money is by charging for accessing premium parts of the site, for which an annual fee will be payable. Access to the items mentioned in the previous paragraph will be free, but post-match video interviews, produced through a state-of-the- art Dons Player, will be part of the premium package, along with Radio WDON commentaries for home and away matches and extended match highlights. This all fits in with AFC Wimbledon becoming a more professionally run operation and will bring us into line with the majority of other Football League clubs.

We appreciate that asking you to pay for another service during these testing economic times may be a burden, but we need other income streams to help us to consolidate in the Football League. If we have aspirations to climb into League 1 and move to a new stadium, then we need to find ways of raising funds to boost the playing budget. We currently have the fourth-lowest budget in League 2, and we need new projects such as the new FLi website to help us pay for those new signings who will keep us competitive. As far as we know, the cost of the Premium FLi package will be about £3 per month, but we will notify you when we are certain of the price.

What will not change is that we will continue to keep you informed about the latest news as it happens at your club. All we are doing is moving to a better way of doing that.

All of the 80 or so clubs that already have an FLi official website will be migrating to the new version during the course of the summer. We have a much larger task than those other clubs since we will be adopting an FLi website for the first time. So a project team has been set up to make sure that we will be ready for testing in mid June, and we are aiming for a launch in mid July.

A lot of the material on our current official website will be transferred to the new one over a period of time, but some may not be transferred at all. Instead, we are considering how best to preserve it and whether to create a separate “heritage” website for material that it might not be possible to accommodate on the new site. It might, for example, make sense to keep match reports from the early years on such a heritage site, with a link to archive material on the new site.

The team is working hard on the project, and we’ll keep you updated on progress from time to time. Where? On our current official website, of course!