Fans Forum Report 9th October 2017
Panel: Andrew Cullen, Robbie Nielson, Alex Gilbey, Steve Gifford (MKDSA)
57 Dons Supporters
Q. Is promotion still realistic?
Robbie believes so as we are only 6 points adrift from the play-off a position. He also believes we have the players to achieve this.
Q. Is there a disconnect between the players and the fans?
Robbie realised that the Dons were coming to an end of a cycle. There were too many players who were aged 30 and over and had been here a long time. A clear-out was essential. It is taking some time for the team to gel and although he agrees at the moment, there is not the same relationship between the fans and the players, this will change if we all pull together. Robbie reminded us that this is a completely new team (almost) and relationships take time to build.
Q. Cost of coach travel seems expensive?
There is a growing feeling within certain sections of the fanbase that club coach travel is too expensive. Andy rejected this by offering examples of comparisons with other clubs. He also informed the forum that the club loses approximately £6,500 per year on coach travel. The disabled coach does operate at a loss however this is important in ensuring all fans can get to the games if they wish. Our coach operators are a well-known reputable company who offer a full refund if supporters are not at the away in time. In comparison to Fleetwood, one of their major sponsors subsidises their travel.
Q. Any news on the training ground?
Negotiations are ongoing with both the Tickford Park and Cosgrove sites. It is important to ensure the training ground is future-proof and although all at the club (especially Pete) are frustrated
regarding the delay he needs to get it right for the benefit of the Dons. Andy also alluded that some good news has been received recently but it was not divulged what that good news was.
Q. Who is the Captain?
Robbie stated that Dean Lewington remains as Club Captain and he will be team captain whenever he plays. Alex Gilbey has replaced George Williams as captain when Lewie’s not playing. Alex informed the forum that “he has had previous experience of being captain and enjoys the responsibility and tries to lead by example”.
Q. George Williams isn’t starting at the moment
George’s strength is that he can play anywhere in defence. However, his versatility also means he does not have just one position that he can excel in.
Q. Tshibola returning to Villa
Robbie informed us that Tshibola's contract had a January 'get-out' clause in it which the club were going to enact. Both the club and Tshibola agreed that it wasn’t working and rather than remain here it would be better for him to return to Villa early.
Q. Possible new signings in the transfer windows.
Robbie is hoping to be able to recruit two new players within the next transfer window.
Q. Has our history ever stopped a player signing for us?
Both Andy Cullen and Robbie Nielson believed it has not made any difference to our transfer dealings. Alex Gilbey never gave it a thought when he was in discussions regarding joining us.
Q. Is the Checkatrade Trophy new format working?
Andy believes the competition should be a knock-out competition. Including the Premier League U23 teams was due to the major financial incentive offered by the Premier League. Getting to the final is a real ambition and being taken seriously by all at the club.
Q. Would reducing ticket prices help getting more people to attend?
The club continue to look at ticket prices and at ways to bring more fans to the games. Also, home attendances are down slightly but not unexpectedly so and remain reasonably stable. New initiatives are constantly being discussed and a new executive has been employed to achieve this. Jake, previously with Atlanta Hawks has been employed to achieve this. Andy also mentioned that “The Gift of Football” did not fill the stadium and those tickets were free!
Q. Is Scott Goldbourne remaining with us until the end of the season?
As he signed very late on deadline day he wanted to be sure it was the right move so only opted to sign until January. Robbie has spoken to him about this recently and says he is enjoying himself here, he is a good character to have in the dressing room and discussions are ongoing/planned to have his loan extended.
Q. Where is Aneke’s best position?
Aneke is an attacking player and would be wasted in a more defensive role.
Q. AFC Away ticket/travel arrangements
Andy reiterated that the club’s first priority was and is the safety of our supporters. Taking all advice available including the police and AFC and in discussions with the Dons Away Supporters Group it was felt that the “Bubble” option was the best option. He hopes that when AFC move to their new ground this can be relaxed. Due to the nature of Stadium:MK there is no need to put into place such stringent security measures.
Q. What were the reasons for Robbie to come to the Dons?
Robbie decision to join the Dons was down to a) The Chairman. “A character” and also known for his loyalty to his managers, b) The stadium and the setup here and c) The potential of the club to grow. Robbie also felt he had taken Hearts as far as he could as Celtic would always dominate due to their finances.
Q. What’s the difference between English and Scottish football?
English football is much more physical, and clubs are much more competitive. Every team can beat everyone. The players here are more talented, and unlike Scotland where there is normally one player in a team who you need to plan how best to cope with, in England there is normally maybe 5 talented players to plan for.
Q. Why isn’t Aiden Nesbit starting games?
Nesbitt doesn’t start every game as he needs to bulk up physically. This is something that is being worked on. The first 30 minutes of a game is very different to the last 30 minutes and Nesbit is at the moment being used as an impact substitute.
Q. What’s happened to Robbie Muirhead?
Murihead is still very young and this is his first time away, in a new club and a new country. This was to be expected but Robbie (Neilson) is confident that he will find his form and be a real asset to the club.
Q. What happened with Ben Tilney?
Robbie described Ben is a 'smashing bloke' who seemed to believe he didn't have the ability to become a top player. Robbie felt Ben was very brave to say that. To support him the Dons allowed him to go on-loan to Brackley to play part time and pursue a change of career in music. The club remain in contact with him and wish him well for the future.
Q. Where is our budget compared to other clubs?
Andy Cullen confirmed that although our budget is not the best in the division it is certainly in the top third. Like all clubs they are governed by the amount they raise via the turnstiles. Andy also does not believe that clubs with lower budgets cannot be successful, in his career he has been involved in two promotions (one with Norwich and one with us) both times the clubs did not have largest budget.
Q. Any plans to have a presence in the shopping centre?
The club closed the stall in the shopping centre in the summer due to the high costs involved. However, the authorities made an offer to the Dons and Andy Cullen was pleased to announce the Dons have a new unit on part of the old BHS site, which will be able to do much more to promote the Dons to Milton Keynes as a whole.
Fans Forum Report 9th March 2017
Last Night, MKDSA hosted a fans forum at Stadium:MK to allow fans the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the current and future plans of the club. This fans forum was of particular interest as this was the first time the Dons fans had a chance to quiz new manager Robbie Neilson. Robbie was accompanied on the panel with Andrew Cullen, Scott Wootton, Kieran Agard and MKDSA chairman Tom Stewart.
Luke Ashmead, once again provided us with a fantastic service in hosting the evening allowing all fans to question the panel. With just under 100 in attendance, this is one of the more popular fans forums of recent time and as I said my farewells to those leaving I could see smiles across everyone's faces.
Before we have details of some of the questions asked, there was an important part of the evening for a project that the MKDSA are currently involved with. This is known as the changing places project which I hope by now the majority of MK Dons fans are aware of. For more information on this cause please visit our Just Giving page or ask a committee member of the MKDSA. In summary, the supporters Association are looking to fundraise the largest amount of money for a cause than we ever have before. The project is from the fans to the fans!
Kieran Agard had kindly donated his signed Gold shirt from the Bolton game for us to auction of for this cause. Bidding started at £90 from the online auction and finally closed at £400. A fantastic sum which has been kindly matched by Scott & Kieran. Raising £800 is a great start to our cause and you can look out for further fundraising events by visiting our social media pages
Below are the headlines of the Q & A:
The sale of the land for the training ground at in Newport Pagnell has been approved by Milton Keynes Council and is currently in the consultancy phase before formal planning permission is submitted.
Chuks Aneke’s unfortunate hamstring injury against Bradford city will mean the striker is not expected to play any further of this season. Key focus for Chuks & Scott Wootton is to ensure they are in a position to take a full part in pre-season in preparation for the new campaign
Pre-season tour to be confirmed in Hungary.
Robbie is excited to announce new signing Peter Pawlett from Aberdeen. Peter is leaving the Scottish dons for the MK Dons and will bring a wealth of experience after playing in cup finals and European football and is still at a good age. The MKDSA would like to welcome Peter to Milton Keynes
Robbie believes the key difference between English & Scottish football is the physicality of the English game.
Agard’s favourite goal of the season was the 50th Birthday celebration equaliser against Bolton Wanderers
Talks around new and more pre-contract agreements are still progressing to build a squad for next season
Robbie’s belief in style of play is unpredictability and will look for his squad to adapt many different formations and style of play to make it difficult for opposing teams to plan against us.
Scott Wootton is preparing on other aspects of his fitness whilst recovering from injury to come back a stronger player.
On behalf of the MKDSA committee, we would like to thank all those that attended & contributed to the fans forum. We hoped you enjoyed the evening and we hope to welcome you back soon to further MKDSA events