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Interviews

Mick: I'm here to deliver a blueprint for the future

Interview with our Interim Chair

13 April 2022

In his last programme notes, our interim chair Mick Buckley answered the key questions about his new role at the club, how he is tackling the job, and what he is aiming to achieve.

For those who missed it, here is Mick's interview in full:

Why were you invited to become interim chair and what is the role all about?

I have had a long association with the club: I was one of many people involved in its rebirth in 2002 and I’ve been a non-executive director in various capacities and consistently over the past 10 years, where I have been a Non-Exec Director of the Dons Trust Board, The Football Club Board and more recently the PLC. I was also a member of the Stadium Committee from origination to delivery.

I have run various organisations and when it became apparent that Joe Palmer was leaving as CEO, I was asked if I would step in on an interim basis to keep things moving forward and to make a recommendation to the Board about the kind of structure and leadership, we will need to take the club forward.

To say it’s been a baptism of fire would be no exaggeration. You couldn’t have possibly foreseen what’s happened since you walked in? 

No, of course not. Generally Interim Chairs/ CEOs are there just to keep things moving until the successor arrives. I never anticipated that the club and the Head Coach would be parting ways. 

It was a majorly-challenging time, particularly as it was Robbo we were talking about. It was a difficult situation but having said that, I was delighted we found Mark and Eddie so quickly.

They really seemed to get what we are trying to do here, they seemed energised by it and they both have fantastic credibility and experience.

So, what are you now looking at specifically?

First of all, the people. How do we best utilise all the people around us - be it our staff or our volunteers - so they can interact with the club in the most effective way.

Then there’s the structure they all operate within - do we have the right people in the right places and is the structure maximising their abilities?

How should we be working with the new community around us? We already have fantastic community initiatives in the shape of our Foundation and DLAG, but how do we keep moving forward and reaching more people?

On a wider scale, I’m also looking for opportunities to increase our match day and non-match day revenues. Hopefully, the hospitality industry is now pulling clear of the pandemic and that will present new opportunities in that area.

Then we have opportunities to develop the third floor of our main Cappagh (West) Stand, which is currently a huge empty space that is brimming with potential. How should we furnish that and what can it be best used for?

What have you discovered so far?

Well, as a director of the company, you often get to hear about the things that are not going so well. But coming to the stadium every day has reinforced for me just how much has been achieved in difficult circumstances.

I’m still a fan, I walk around the stadium on match days and truly believe the fan experience is getting better and better. 

Despite the challenging results, it’s wonderful to walk into the pub, or behind the Movers (South) Stand, or go up to the hospitality lounges and boxes and see so many people - old fans, new fans, people from the community - just all coming together around their love for the club.

That’s an amazing thing to see whether you work here or not and when you see the planning that goes into making that happen, it’s really, really impressive.

Just coming to Plough Lane regularly has made me see the potential we now have to increase our playing budgets in the future by activating all the commercial elements and opportunities within the stadium and really be a positive force for good.

What about the people who work for us?

There is a lot of fantastic staff at the club, really talented people working long hours who want to deliver the best product and experience. Most are fans themselves.

They do an incredible job that can easily go unnoticed. As well as trying to deliver all our business objectives, they actually stage 23 huge events a year with roughly 7500 people attending each one. I suppose that’s been an eye opener.

A match is an event, just like a wedding is an event, only with far more people. It’s an enormous challenge - and achievement - to stage a match successfully so fans will want to come back again for the next one and then all the ones after that.

So many things work really well. As with many organisations that aim to deliver a great fan experience, it’s easy to dwell on what’s not working well. But I can assure you there’s a lot of really good stuff that is working very well indeed.

What is your ultimate goal in this role?

My goal is to have delivered a blueprint for the future structure with some recommendations for the right people to take us forward to make the most of the opportunities.


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