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Getting to Know Your Supporters Trust – Dons Supporters Together

Date: 16th March 2018

It is well documented that Supporters Direct Scotland work closely with supporters trusts up and down the country and with over 25 trusts now the fans voice in Scotland is growing. In this new series we will look to speak to all supporters trusts in Scotland so that fans can learn more about their own specific trust’s roles and aims whilst seeing what is going on around elsewhere.  

First up is the Dons Supporters Together, the supporters trust for Aberdeen fans.

 

So, what is Dons Supporters Together?

Dons Supporters Together (DST) is the only AFC supporters group committed to giving supporters, our members, a greater influence in the boardroom. We were established in 2003 as the AFC Trust before a 2012 re-branding to better represent our role and image within the wider Aberdeen-supporting community.

 

Very well but like half of Pittodrie used to ask about a certain centre midfielder, what do DST actually do?

We, a committee of 8 Dons fans who sit on the board, meet in person every couple months and talk incessantly in email and Whatsapp in an attempt to make a difference. We’ve all our individual views and we don’t always agree but we’re committed to the one common goal of ensuring AFC supporters are well represented. There’s no hidden agendas or individual aims.

 

What have been your finest recent achievements?

We’ve done a fair bit which we can be proud of. The stadium survey we created and reported last year has been widely used by fans and the club. We’ve helped support and manage the funds for the Display Team, helped ensure the club appointed an SLO, put on fan events at the Blue Lamp, got Scotrail to introduce more ‘specials’ as well as welcoming Paul Goodwin (SFSA director) and Jacob Rosler (former Union Berlin fan rep’) to present in Aberdeen.

We also pass on supporter feedback to the club, most recently about the lack of loyalty point use in Cyprus, ticket rises and of course the stadium. We’re also committed to ensuring Scottish football is corruption free and have been vocal about this to our members and the club. To get such a response (25k votes + 100k’s impressions) to our Twitter poll and statement about Rangers was pretty mental. Oh, we’ve a new website too!

 

The stadium is obviously a major talking point right now as touched on there, what’s your stance?

We’ve openly backed Kingsford in the past and continue to do so. This is on the basis of our research showing that it’s what the majority of AFC supporters want. As individuals, we’ll be sad to see the back of Pittodrie but we recognise it’s time to move on and fully back the proposed plans.

If done right Kingsford could be absolutely brilliant and as a new-build starting from scratch, it should be. Steep stands and plenty safe-standing which are conducive to great atmospheres would be ideal, along with ample space for fans to gather pre and post-match. This is our greatest responsibility to date: ensuring the club understand just how important this move is to supporters and making sure they know what fans want and expect from our new ground (if approved!).

 

What obstacles have you found most frustrating with DST?

The two major difficulties that affect us are actually intertwined; 1) our membership tally and 2) the club not always listening. We’re under no illusions that we need to grow our membership and that with this our voice will be respected more within the club. We’ve got a decent relationship with them but it needs to be better. The fans need to be heard and involved more.

The other major obstacle is time. Each of us on the board live in the North-east but we all work full-time with families and other commitments. Football is so fast-moving it’s difficult to answer a media call, update social media or add to the website while also at the day job!

 

How much exactly do the club listen to DST’s ideas and concerns then?

That depends. As mentioned briefly, the club used our survey on the stadium and were grateful for our research- so much so that some results were used in the application submitted to the council. We’ve not met with anyone from the club since May when a few of us discussed ticket prices after we’d questioned their strategy. We’re awaiting a date from George to meet again.

In our opinion, the clubs viewpoint on most things come too much from a business perspective, which we can all understand to a point, but they must look from a supporters perspective too. A football club is like no other business, the fans (the consumers) are absolutely imperative. Cliché as it is, no fans = no club.

 

What are DST’s current and eventual aims?

The current focus is all on Kingsford. The council have granted approval of the stadium so we expect communication with the club about what the supporters want and expect from the new stadium.

In the background we’re still discussing the ‘big tax case’ with supporters and can’t believe how well the carpet is being swept, so to speak. Imperatively, we need to continue to grow our membership and visibility and long-term we’d love to see a supporter represented on the AFC board.

 

How many members have DST now got?

We’re currently sitting at around 2,250 members. Considering how large our fan-base is, as well as how easy it is to join us, we know there’s potential for massive growth. That’s still around 20% of season ticket holders though which isn’t bad going.

 

Finally, just how easy is it join DST and why should any Dandy do so? Sell it to us!

Just go to our website, fill out the form and click submit. That’s it. Any Aberdeen fan of any age or address can do it and it’s absolutely free. Keep the ‘Receive email updates’ ticked to join the mailing list too.

Members are first to get news, event invitations and our POTM polls. Our membership total is also a barometer for how engaged Dons fans are and how much desire there is to influence change. While we love engaging with so many fans on Twitter, our social media numbers don’t mean much to AFC. Its members we require to have an influence in the boardroom. Quite honestly, we see no disadvantage to a Dandy joining us. We’ve no agendas and simply recognise the need for supporters to be listened to by the club we all love.

We’re open to anything and absolutely welcome any comments, just get in touch.

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