Wimbledon Fans Want To Keep Control: Survey

Supporters would reject a "sugar-daddy"

Wimbledon fans are determined to keep control of their football club, following a survey of more than 700 supporters.

The Dons Trust, the supporters trust that owns AFC Wimbledon, carried out the survey as part of an ongoing process to determine the future model, direction and location of the club.

The key headline from the results was that the overwhelming majority rejected any future sell-out to a sugar-daddy type "saviour" who would take full control over their club in return for a fast-track cash injection for a new stadium and promotion to the big leagues.

Perry Walker from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) guided the Dons Trust Survey Working Group through the process, which saw 730 responses returned. 

NEF was invited by the Dons Trust Board last April to help fans thrash out and articulate their vision for the club’s future using the NEF’s innovative "consensus voting" approach, designed to help groups with differing opinions to find common ground. 

The Board wanted to find out what supporters thought about four key areas for the club: its future location, its ownership, their ambition, and how any new stadium should be funded. The conclusions drawn from the results of the survey are that:

·         The key issue for the club’s supporters is continued fan-ownership.

·         The second most important issue is location, with a preference for a return to Wimbledon/Merton, but many fans indicated that Kingston/SW London would be acceptable if it meant not losing control of their club.

·         Supporters are also cautiously ambitious, but do not want the cost of promotion to be losing their ownership of the club.

·         Finally, how a new stadium would be funded is less of a concern to supporters as long as they do not lose control.

Having had their club taken from them once before, it is perhaps unsurprising that Wimbledon supporters are firmly against any sell-out, wishing to retain overall control of their club.

And as AFC Wimbledon continues to hold discussions with both the London Borough of Merton and the Royal Borough of Kingston about potential sites for a new stadium, the club will now have a clearer idea of the fans’ preference for its location.

Nicole Hammond, chair of the Survey Working Group and Dons Trust Board member, said: "It is gratifying that most fans put control of the club as their number one priority. As a board member, it is very helpful for me to have this feedback from our community.  The next stage of the process will be to engage the Dons Trust membership in a further round of consensus voting, with the emphasis on investigating more subtle nuances around the headline results from this first round.

"I would like to thank those fans who have given us their views and would urge any who are not yet Dons Trust members to join now if they want to make sure that their opinions count in the next stage."

March 2, 2011