Why is the Dons Draw so important for the AFC Wimbledon Academy?
Academy Manager, Jeremy Sauer, discusses the importance of The Dons Draw funding towards the
running of the Academy.
What is the contribution of the Dons Draw to the Academy?
In the Chelsea FA Youth Cup programme we ran a time-line of our own evolution since the club re-
formed. Included was season-by-season budgets to illustrate just how much the department has
Here’s a summary:
It’s important to note that upon promotion to the Football League in 2011 and gaining official
Academy status we begun to draw central funding that currently contributes just under 50% of our
That still leaves significant costs for a club of our size. So over the past few seasons we’ve worked
hard to fundraise – you may remember the Minithon last October raised over £10k for the Academy.
In total just under 25% of our budget comes from sponsorship, donations and fund-raising. The
largest contributor to this is undoubtedly The Dons Draw. And we’re hopeful, with your help, we
can almost double to funds raised by the draw from last season. Every penny goes towards
developing Home-Grown & Hungry players.
How are we using the money?
To run the Academy to the correct Premier League EPPP standards there are minimums for both
facilities and staff that, especially being a London club, are the largest costs to our budget. Without
our own training ground, the hire cost of suitable facilities around South West London for our
players to train on 3 or 4 times a week aren’t cheap. Every season we have managed to improve in
this area until we reach the point that everything can be based at the training ground and we have a
proper hub to work from.
As a Category 3 club, we don’t have to run an U21s setup according to the rules. However if we’re
going to successfully develop our own players then it’s essential – there aren’t many 17 or 18 year
olds ready for League 2 football. There is no central funding however to run the U21s from so it is all
costs and no income – unless we sell players or they replace the cost of first team players. So fund-
raising to afford the U21s is critical. The more we raise, the more we can put towards increasing the
quality of our setup and quantity of young professionals on our books.
This season has been our most successful year as an Academy. The FA Youth Cup run, Will
Nightingale & Ryan Sweeney in the 1st team, U21s top of the table. In short, we’re moving forward…
and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. We have plenty more talent coming through in our
younger age-groups who we are confident can surpass this seasons successes. I don’t think we’re
long away from being a club recognised for producing our own or a player going on to do something
However, it needs your support to maintain momentum. The Dons Draw is a fantastic way of
contributing to the future of the club whilst also giving yourself the chance of getting something
back each month.
You can enter here.