Good evening everyone and thanks for being here tonight.
My intentions tonight are not to rubbish previous incumbents’ efforts, but to simply explain where we had to come from, to bring the association to where we are today.
As has been well documented the previously elected Chairman resigned shortly after his tenure began, and I was somewhat reluctantly elected as Chairman from my position of Vice-Chairman and It is no secret that the MKDSA took a rough ride in those first few months, we were firefighting on a lot of fronts, and this from an already bad position we had inherited with the reputation of the MKDSA amongst the fanbase at what was possibly an all-time low.
In the first few weeks and months we tried to track down previous minute’s books, AGM records, membership records, financial records, bank account details and much more, and in many of these investigations we drew a blank as there appeared to be very little documented evidence of anything.
At this point I would like to thank Carolyn Green and Adam Faiers who gave us some invaluable assistance in regaining control of the bank account and making some sense of whatever financial records we had recovered; the individuals mentioned were still signatories of the MKDSA finances despite not being on the committee for several years and them making several attempts to move the control to the then committee.
I should also give thanks to John Brockwell, John Samuel, Franco Volpe and Dave Gundry who also provided us with historical information and documentation to help us make sense of what had occurred over the years.
The current Treasurer Aiden Gray and I spent several weeks pouring over what little information we had and started to make sense of it to at least give us a starting point moving forward, it was a very difficult task and I would like to thank Aiden for sorting it out, but one concerning situation came to light that the MKDSA owed the club over £1000 in unpaid bills, mainly for a table at the End of Season Presentation Night, and trophies for the End of Season Awards.
I spoke to Andy Cullen at great length over this matter and indeed the then state of the MKDSA voicing my concerns, and he offered any assistance we needed, and I thank him for providing advice during a very difficult time. I’m pleased to say I negotiated a settlement with the club over the unpaid bills which we reduced significantly when we realised that some fans paid their MKDSA membership when signing up to become season ticket holders, this money had been collected for several years by the club and had never found its way back to the MKDSA. The balance of the debt was paid as a donation to the club in the form of a widescreen TV for the Fan Bar, we are now out of debt with the club and have recently paid for the trophies from last season’s awards and I’m also pleased to say we are now banking with Metro Bank and its so far so good. Whilst talking about finances I would also like to thank Janet Stennett, I know known of you know her, but she is a colleague of mine from another sporting activity and an HMRC Senior Fraud Investigator and she has been invaluable in producing the balance sheet today and helping us get to the bottom of the situation, and she very kindly performed that task for nothing.
The membership was also a concern coming in, the attraction of becoming an MKDSA member was minimal to say the least with very little benefits to members. The membership stood at less than 50 and the majority of these were Life & Honorary Members, and annual members were thought to be less than ten and with the need to pay a membership fee negated there was no means of income for the MKDSA.
The new committee I’m pleased to say came up with a plan and launched a membership drive that encouraged fans to get back onboard with the MKDSA. At this point I should once again thank Andy Cullen who agreed to sponsor the membership drive by providing prizes from the club for our monthly Members Prize Draw and moving forward the club have already agreed to once again sponsor us with prizes this season.
As a starting point to get the membership rolling, we set the memberships ridiculously low to try and encourage people back on board, sadly though we are having to put the memberships costs up after this meeting to cover the costs of website hosting, our card payment facility and Zoom which has allowed us to hold meetings during lockdown.
Last season our best laid plans were thwarted by Covid and our hoped-for rapid increase of members by being able to sign people up in person turned out to be far lower than what we hoped, but thankfully being able to provide an online payment facility kept the membership ticking over, but we want to really kick on now, and you can help by signing up today either with Jackie our Membership Secretary after the meeting, or by going online via the MKDSA website and paying by card.
Whilst talking about the MKDSA website I want to give a huge vote of thanks to Aleks Kopec, father of the well-known Maja Kopec. He built the site and I think you will agree it’s pretty good and provides a valuable service for fans, sadly for Aleks the anticipated handover to myself and Derren was again put back through Covid and he remained at the helm for much longer than first thought, but he now steps back in an advisory role just in case the website breaks, and myself and Derren control the day-to-day traffic.
More thanks are required to those that provide content for the website, not just you the fans but by regular contributors such as Jon Harries, Martin Atherton, Lee Scriven, Alfie Burr and Reece Davies and I would also like to thank Russell Forgham from the previous committee who provided a superb bolt on with the MKDSA Archive, it really is a fabulous piece of work and can be accessed via the MKDSA website, a real labour of love and if you haven’t looked at it yet, you should, many thanks to him and also James Reece who continues to update the Archive.
We’ve tried a few things on the website, some have worked some haven’t, and sadly some of the regular articles such as a match report will no longer happen as most of us go to away games so when we did get round to publishing it will just be old news, so we thought we should just let it die.
Matchday Live on Facebook is another thing to go, it was extremely popular and for the Ipswich game attracted over 8,000 hits, but again most of us journey to away games so it was just not possible, but we are not ruling out a return at some stage. But one thing we can say it provided a much-needed link for fans when we were forced to watch games from our sofas, I hope you enjoyed it.
Another project was to get MKDSA signage around the ground and I’m pleased to say thanks to the club we have a prime location right next to the home dugout as well as at the away end facing the Cowshed and we would like to thank local company Charles Rayner of Crownhill for helping us sponsor this project. I have also spoken to Caz of the CazBar fame, and he has agreed to sponsor the MKDSA for the new season. So many thanks to him for that and I hope you will continue to support him throughout the season, and if you get a chance, please thank him for his support.
Another project was the Fan Bar on Level 3, and we must thank Lucy Dawson for helping us get it off the ground. It certainly isn’t ideal, and it needs much work, but considering we have had little or nothing for 17 years it’s a start and hopefully you will see improvements throughout the season.
On its launch it attracted some 750 people and in honesty we underestimated the interest and things never went totally to plan. At the relaunch things got worse when poorly informed stewards denied entry to hundreds and only 20 people managed to circumnavigate the system to get in. We were bitterly disappointed after all the hard work and we hope it didn’t put people off, but we are in constant contact with the club to make sure that nothing like this happens again. All I can say is please use the Fan Bar and prove to the club it is a winner, if you do that, we can then lobby the club to invest money in this project and make it a home to be proud of.
Whilst talking about the Fan Bar the MKDSA intends to provide funds raised through memberships to improve facilities, it is with this in mind we have ordered 5 new sofas for the bar area and they will be delivered soon, we have also committed to purchasing 5 more when funds allow.
We are also aware of the issue of the size of the TV’s, but TV’s cost money, and we can only do that with your help, so once again please join the MKDSA and we can make the improvements needed.
I am also pleased to say that considering the mess of the Spurs game the club have invested heavily in consultive talks with the MKDSA to try and make sure the same mistakes are not repeated, we can but hope, and we can only tell them where they have made mistakes, it’s up to them to act on that advice from us, problems do continue, and be sure we will not rest until everything is rectified.
We have after two years finally managed to get SLO’s installed (Supporters Liaison Officers) who are Lou and Aiden, and we hope to work closely with opposition clubs to provide a better experience for all.
By now I think most of you know the MKDSA have written to the club to tell them we will not be supporting the existing Bubble Arrangements with AFC. We believe them to be totally unfair towards our fans whilst AFC fans are unhindered and we will be campaigning for unrestricted travel for those that want it, or in the very least arrangements must be the same for both sides, if we are coached in then so are they.
I would like to thank the MKDSA committee who I think have done a superb job to pull the association back from the brink of failure. Most of which have never been on a committee before, and to think where we were when we started to where we are now is remarkable, and they deserve your appreciation, once again the MKDSA is moving forward with a good reputation. Sadly because of work commitments we have lost Harry from the committee, but I’m pleased to say that two former MKDSA committee members have returned to the fold in the shape of John Samuel and Franco Volpe, they will add a great deal of experience and knowledge for the season ahead and have already proved to be an asset to the committee since we co-opted them.
Before I close I would like to mention that it has not always been possible to work within the confines of the Association constitution, the pandemic happening was never a consideration for anyone, let alone us, but we will be working towards a few things in the coming months that should cover that eventuality if it ever happens again, but I can assure you that everything we have done in the last 18 months has always been with the best interests of the MKDSA and its members, and done with complete integrity and honesty.
We have learnt much over the last 18 months and although we already knew it, it appears that the constitution needs a massive overhaul. I must admit it was a priority at the start of my tenure but because of circumstances it has had to take a back seat, but we intend to address that issue over the next few months.
Finally, please join the MKDSA and get your friends to join as well if you haven’t done so already, I don’t deny it, we need your money to do some of the things we would like to do and you can see we have made great strides already, and the more people that join give us a greater voice when dealing with the club, and you never know you could win one of our monthly prizes.
And very finally, although I have thanked this exceptional committee, I wish to single someone out for my own personal thanks. Many of us have questioned why we do this job, it is at times thankless, it is hard graft, we get grief from the fans, we try and sort it out as the MKDSA, and sometimes the club don’t come up to scratch and we get it in the neck again. But one person has picked me up consistently when I have felt down or become frustrated with what is going on, so without embarrassing him any further my personal thanks go to Derren Burr, couldn’t have done it without you Mukka.
Once again thanks for attending.