Milton Keynes Dons Football Club has been one of the most controversial football clubs in recent history and consequently has been the subject of constant interest from media publications and on-line fan forums. For several reasons, the reporting and discussion of MK Dons history has been tainted by inaccuracies and assumptions and often this is simply down to a lack of research or access to all the facts. This part of the website has been created in order to create a factual library of documents and articles relating to Milton Keynes Dons Football Club.
1980 - Excerpts from book entitled "Dons in the League"
- In 1980 Chairman Ron Noades claimed that the Borough of Merton did not want the club and that he was in talks to take Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes.
- Chairman Ron Noades and directors Jimmy Rose, Bernie Coleman and Sam Hammam were voted onto the board of Milton Keynes City FC.
- Noades stated there was no future for Wimbledon FC at Plough Lane.
- Noades acknowledged that Milton Keynes had long term potential and could support a multi-purpose stadium.
11th October 1993 - Minutes of Wimbledon FC Board Meeting
- Wimbledon FC recorded a loss of £1.5 million.
- Sam Hammam expressed concern at the amount of money he was putting into the club.
- The board considered selling players.
- Wimbledon FC board agreed to monitor the finances carefully.
- Merton Council did not want to link the Greyhound Stadium with Plough Lane development.
- Merton Council allegedly backed out of the agreement made to Safeway.
- There was pressure by Crystal Palace to commit to long-term stay at Selhurst Park and to apply for a shared football ground development grant. To accept the long term plan meant no return to Merton.
- The cost of ground sharing with Crystal Palace was £250,000 per year
1994 - Chairman's Report for the Wimbledon FC AGM
- Wimbledon FC recorded an operating loss of £700,000.
- No progress had been made on a return to Merton.
- The Greyhound Stadium site was deemed unsuitable.
- The Wimbledon FC board had no confidence in Merton Council helping to find a site.
22nd February 1996 - Minutes of Wimbledon FC Board Meeting
- Wimbledon FC recorded an operating loss of £1.8 million.
- Budget based on 13th position or higher hence an income of £400,000. It was recognised that the club were unlikely to achieve this which would mean a reduced income of £295,000.
- Despite ground sharing with Crystal Palace there were still costs of £78,500 per year towards the Plough Lane stadium.
- Relegation would cost £1.5 million per year. The subsequent sale of players and reduced wages would lower the projected loss to £700,000 per year.
- Hammam listed 35 players at the club and believed that by selling 13 or 14 he would reduce the wage bill by £1 million per year.
- Hammam was seriously considering a move to Wales or Ireland and was in talks with wealthy individuals.
- Wimbledon FC had written to every Borough close to it about a move there, but none were forthcoming.
- Hammam believed that the possibility of a move back to Merton was all but dead.
- Hammam said that unless Wimbledon was brave or imaginative or lucky it would go back to whence it came.
4th July 1997 - Letter from Sam Hammam to Merton Council
- Wimbledon FC had a mistrust of Merton Council
- Hammam claimed that Wimbledon FC had been hampered and hindered by Merton Council for two decades and had been driven out of the Borough of Merton
- Hammam wanted Merton Council to find Wimbledon FC a home in Merton.
- Hammam wanted the Council to stop playing politics with the club.
14th January 2000 - Letter from Sam Hammam to the Norwegian owners of WFC
- Hammam stated that the stadium issue was critical as time was running out at Selhurst Park.
- The lack of fans had made the financial situation difficult
- Hammam had looked at every available site for a stadium in the Borough
- He had actively explored 7 Boroughs surrounding Merton for a stadium site
- Wimbledon FC had been invited for discussions about moving to a new location by Watford, Luton, Birmingham, West Bromwich Albion, Portsmouth, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Cardiff and Scotland.
- Hammam had given his time to Wimbledon FC for free
- The only way Wimbledon FC could survive with its low gates and no stadium was to stay in the Premier League
- Players were only put up for sale because of the dire financial circumstances
- Sam Hammam stated, "Asset stripping may be legally possible but I find it unacceptable morally and cannot participate in it or condone it."
14th May 2000 - Wimbledon Football Club relegated from the Premier League
2nd December 2000 - Report by Kris Stewart (WISA) of a meeting with Charles Koppel
- The board of Wimbledon FC were working to a 3 year plan to put the club on a secure financial footing. This may necessitate the sale of players.
- The board of Wimbledon FC were seeking a site for a new stadium but there were difficulties in finding one.
- The owners wanted the club to relocate back to Merton. If not they would look for a site as close to Merton as possible. They would not rule out a move to Milton Keynes.
- Kris Stewart stated that WISA would campaign vigourously against any plan to move to Milton Keynes, but should the club complete such a move "I would wish them luck with their business venture and do what I could to build a new Wimbledon Football Club"
19th January 2001 - Letter from Peter Winkelman to MK Council
- Milton Keynes is only a solution to a Football Club experiencing "serious difficulties with their home ground facilities"
- There is no intention to poach another football club
- A final decision to move to Milton Keynes had not been made by Wimbledon FC
- Peter Winkelman's role was to provide a stadium facility should Wimbledon FC relocate to Milton Keynes
2001 - Average attendance at Wimbledon FC dropped 54% from 17,157 to 7,897 after relegation
2001 - Financing a new stadium
- Wimbledon FC would need £50million for the construction of a stadium in Merton.
- Wimbledon FC and Merton Council had looked at 14 different sites within Merton over a period of 5 years.
- Merton Council produced a report equating the task of finding a home for the Club in the Borough as "achieving the impossible in a densely built up urban area".
- Many local residents near to Plough Lane are strongly opposed to a new stadium being built and support the development of new housing on the site.
- The estimated total cost of acquiring the land, constructing a stadium and the Section 106 (transport infrastructure) requirements would be in excess of £70 million. This figure was considered to be well beyond the means of the club.
- FPD Savills also looked for sites South of the River Thames both within a 25-mile radius of Plough Lane and in corridor as far south as Horsham and Mid-Sussex districts but failed to locate a suitable site.
- A 20,000 seat stadium would be seen as a potential negative with a consequence of lost votes for the political party supporting the proposal.
20th June 2001 Result of enquiry into use of the Greyhound Stadium
- The Greyhound Racing Association was happy with its current stadium and was not interested in moving.
- The total cost of obtaining a stadium in this way was likely to be in the region of £55m - £60m. This was considered to be prohibitively expensive and commercial finance could not be arranged.
- Saturdays would pose a real problem. Having to clear the stadium by 6pm for the greyhound meeting would be a major logistical difficulty.
2nd August 2001 - Wimbledon Football Club announce their intention to relocate to Milton Keynes
16th August 2001 - Football League deny Wimbledon Football Club permission to relocate to Milton Keynes
31st August 2001 - Football League refer the matter to arbitration
- Wimbledon Football Club's application to move to Milton Keynes will be heard by a judicially appointed independent arbitration panel.
- The Football League remains constant in its view that to permit the type of move proposed by Wimbledon would not be in the best interests of the national game or its traditions.
January 2002 - Judicially appointed arbitration panel rule that the Football League decision was legally flawed and their processes unfair
8th January 2002 - Hayden Bridge Residents Press Release
- Hayden Bridge residents reiterated their opposition to the club returning after an absence of more than ten years.
- The association had campaigned for ten years to prevent planning permission being granted for Safeways' proposed retail development on the Plough Lane site
- Their opposition to a football stadium on the site was based on the fact that the site was not suitable in terms of transport connections, available parking facilities, noise and air pollution around the site.
- There was no-one present at the meeting who expressed any support for a stadium in Plough Lane or who queried either Mr Koppel's or the Association's reasons for ruling this out.
- The Association urged all supporters of the club to back the relocation to Milton Keynes and to work with Mr Koppel since this was clearly the only viable option for the club.
29th January 2002 - Football League refer the matter to an independent FA Commission
8th February 2002 - Wimbledon Guardian interview of Louise Carton-Kelly (Dons Trust)
- Dons Trust member Louise Carton-Kelly met with Sam Hammam on Wimbledon Common to gather tips on running a football club.
- Sam Hammam told Louise Carton-Kelly that he used to own Milton Keynes City, which Carton-Kelly found to be an "interesting quirk".
- Carton-Kelly described Hammam as being charming and approachable
- Dons Trust to be launched on 10th February 2002 with an intial aim of purchasing significant share holdings in Wimbledon FC
2002 - Letter from Charles Koppel to Kris Stewart (WISA) about returning to Merton
- The club had neither the assets nor the income to fund a new stadium.
- The club needed inward investment of £7 million this season
- A move to Milton Keynes was a last resort but could not be discounted
- Koppel tried to get WISA to come to the table to discuss the future of Wimbledon FC.
2002 - Letter from Charles Koppel to WISA about move to Milton Keynes
- The Football league had rejected their request to move grounds and WFC are seeking a fair hearing.
- The Club continues to pursue the Milton Keynes option because it is the only serious, detailed and adequately funded plan currently on the table.
- However, if a local solution could be found, that the Club could afford and that would secure the Club's future, then the Club would pursue it.
- Merton Council had publicly stated its determination to help the Club find a suitable home in or around its Borough but to date no viable site had been identified.
- The Club had neither the assets nor the income with which to finance any development of a new ground.
- The Milton Keynes proposal was considered to be a real and immediate solution to their homelessness and one that had broad support in the area.
- He believed that the stadium would offer an exciting prospect for the Club.
- WISA informed the Club that it would not meet with Wimbledon FC until Milton Keynes was irrevocably rejected as an option.
28th May 2002 - Summary of the Commissions decision
- The Commission concluded that In light of the exceptional circumstances WFC should be given approval to relocate to Milton Keynes. Those circumstance were listed as follows:
- Wimbledon FC had no stadium of its own for 11 years
- The WFC shareholders were not prepared to continue to finance the club
- Given the level of losses, unless the club moved it would enter liquidation
- There was no other South London alternative
- The following were listed as facts of the events leading up to the decision:
- Deloitte and Touche estimated that Wimbledon FC were losing £3-4 million per year by not playing in its own stadium.
- There had been a steady trend of falling gates at WFC whilst the trend was rising elsewhere - 9% down in the previous year at 6,832.
- Wimbledon FC were responsible for 50% of maintenance and operational costs at Sellhurst Park
- WFC were prohibited from branding and marketing the club at Sellhurst Park leading to limited commercial opportunities
- WFC anticipated additional financial demands when the Sellhurst Park lease was to be renewed in 2005.
- The decision to attempt the move to Milton Keynes was made by the board of Wimbledon FC in July 2001
- The Football League denied permission for the move on 16th August 2001
- Following an appeal by Wimbledon FC an arbitration panel met in January 2002. They concluded that the Football League decision had not been taken properly in the legal sense and their procedures were unfair.
- On 17th April 2002 the Football League referred the matter to an FA Commission of Enquiry
- The following points were noted by the commission:
- The amount of money the Dons Trust could raise, would be insufficient to cover administration costs whilst a new stadium was built, even if that was achievable.
- Less than 20% (640) of Season Ticket holders lived in Merton and only 10% (340) lived in Wimbledon.
- The club had 3,400 Season Ticket holders
- The club was losing £8.2 million per year
- The shareholders had put in £6.7 million that year to keep the club afloat
- The operating loss for 2000/01 was £10.8 million
- A report commissioned by Merton Council claiming that a 20,000 seat stadium could be built at Plough Lane was found to have a funding gap of £27 million.
29th May 2002 - Registration of afcwimbledon.com by Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association (WISA) - The move to Milton Keynes was neither confirmed nor mandatory at this point
30th May 2002 - Registration of afcwimbledon.co.uk by AFC Wimbledon Ltd - The move to Milton Keynes was still not confirmed nor mandatory when the registration took place.
30 May 2002 - WISA AGM
- Whilst under the current ownership of Wimbledon FC WISA members voted not to attend any Wimbledon games the following season, wherever they may be played and whatever the team may be called
- Some WISA members felt that creating a new club now was defeatist and premature until all avenues had been explored.
- WISA board members stated that a new club would give them something positive to concentrate on, rather than the past 11 years of negativity. They expressed the view that a new club was probably more achievable than defeating Koppel.
- WISA voted to set up a new club (despite move to Milton Keynes being neither confirmed or mandatory).
11th June 2002 - AFC Wimbledon Ltd Incorporated
10th December 2002 - Report by Denton Wilde Safte - Franchise United
- Wimbledon FC were not elected to the Football League until 1977
- When Wimbledon applied to relocate to Dublin not one Premier League Club objected.
- Many other clubs have relocatd. For example, QPR has relocated 18 times to 14 different locations in its history
- The Football League has permitted may temporary relocations outside the natural connurbation
- There is a British precedent for a move and change of name in the succesful relocation of Meadowbank Thistle to Livingston
- Other professional sports teams in England have relocated - for example, Rugby Union.
1st April 2003 - London Assembly enquiry into the future of London Stadia (Koppel and Nodes evidence)
- Wimbledon FC did a considerable amount of work with Merton Council to identify a stadium site
- The club contacted 35 Boroughs in and around South London to the boundary of Brighton - all replied NO to a stadium for WFC.
- A leading planning and property firm was employed by the club to identify stadia sites - none were found
- Plough Lane was not deemed suitable for a top tier football stadium by the football licensing authority
- Wimbledon FC did not have the opportunity to return to Merton
- Wimbledon's move from Plough Lane was unique as no obligation was placed on the club to return and that has now changed
- Merton Council misrepresented the residents who did not want the Football Club to return
- Not one person offered to buy Wimbledon FC from the time the move to Milton Keynes was proposed - not even an offer of £1
- Wimbledon FC lost an estimated £50 million in revenue during its time at Selhurst Park
- Noades bought Milton Keynes City FC with a view to moving Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes
- Merton Council rejected AFC Wimbledon's application to play at Bishops Road, Mitcham
2003 - News article: MK City fighting for survival
- MK City faced closure after the departure of some of the directors because of a "mixture of business and family reasons".
June 2003 - Wimbledon Football Club enter administration
June 2003 - Broken Dreams... Broken Promises
- WISA denied they were responsible for WFC entering administration
- Administrator stated the stay away fans led to financial disaster for WFC who lost £20,000 per day. The decision to abandon WFC in favour of AFC Wimbledon had taken the club into administration
- John Fashanu claimed the move to Milton Keynes was the only way the club could be saved
- John Fashanu stated that Koppell had been misunderstood by the fans and should not be blamed
10th June 2003 - Luton Town propose merger with Wimbledon Football Club
- John Gurney is the new chairman of Luton Town FC.
- Luton Town FC board was considering buying Wimbledon out of administration, moving them to Luton and merging them.
- Gurney intended to approach the administrator to discuss terms.
16th June 2003 - The Lawyer
- The root of Wimbledon FC's financial problems was the collapse of ITV Digital.
- It commented that despite having alienated many of its fans, Wimbledon's move to Milton Keynes seemed its most likely way out of the situation.
- Although the move was estimated to have cost around £3.5m, football fans in Milton Keynes had already purchased 60 per cent of next year's season tickets.
September 2003 - Wimbledon Football Club relocate to Milton Keynes
27th September 2003 - Wimbledon Football Club play first match in Milton Keynes against Burnley
2004 - MK Dons Customer Charter
- An interim Customer Charter following the club going into administration.
- Milton Keynes Independent Dons Club reformed as Wimbedon FC Supporters Association.
March 2004 - Planning Report Plough Lane
- Planning report on proposal to redevelop Plough Lane as mixed use development including housing
2004 - Peter Winkelman Interview for 4-4-2
- Pete Winkelman made nothing out of the development at Bletchley.
- The linking of a football stadium to retail development is not original. It doesn't work financially, otherwise. Man City, Cardiff and Coventry cited as examples of mixed development.
- He was not out to steal a football league club. He was only interested in bringing a club which was in serious difficulties to MK, and this was the last option to help it survive.
- Charles Koppel spent 8 months trying to find a solution in London.
- Charles Koppel discussed buying Kingstonian's ground with the fans but they rejected it because it was outside the Borough, even though the reserves played there.
- Pete Winkelman commented, "We're the real child of Wimbledon because of the actions of the AFC Wimbledon group. They left their team before their team left them".
- Fans didn't support club when in financial difficulty, but instead "bought someone else's ground in another Borough - Kingstonian. The same ground they didn't want Charles Koppell to buy.
May 2004 - Wimbledon FC hopelessly insolvent
- Wimbledon FC were described by Mr Justice Lightman as being 'hopelessly insolvent' and faces liquidation without the CVA.
- The Football League was set to expel the club if it failed to pay football creditors in full.
June 2004 - Letter from Pete Winkelman re name change
- The change of name from Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes Dons FC was made to reflect the club's new conurbation of Milton Keynes whilst maintaining a direct link with the club's heritage.
23rd June 2004 - Letter from Wimbledon FC Supporters Club (MK) to Football League regarding name change
- WFCSC wrote to the Football League to ask if the change of name of Wimbledon FC to MK Dons was enforced upon Inter MK Ltd
- NOTE: The Football League did not answer this letter. A second letter was sent by WFCSC and this was also not answered.
27th June 2004 - Wimbledon Football Club exit administration and are renamed Milton Keynes Dons Football Club
3rd November 2004 - The move to Milton Keynes not mandatory
- The FA replied to a letter from the Milton Keynes Dons Supporters Association and confirmed that the decision of the independent commission did not make the move to Milton Keynes mandatory.
3rd May 2006 - The Dons Trust were engaged with WISA in preperation of The Accord
- Dons Trust were fully aware and supportive of WISA in the Accord negotiations
- The Dons Trust saw no need to duplicate their work
2007 - Terms of The Accord
- Parties to the Accord - FSF, MK Dons FC, MK Dons Supporters Association, WISA.
- All parties recognise that AFC Wimbledon was established by supporters of the former Wimbledon FC following the decision to allow that club to move to Milton Keynes.
- All parties recognise and genuinely regret the hurt which was caused to supporters of the former Wimbledon FC by the move to Milton Keynes.
- Once the transfer of all physical patrimony and records has been agreed and implemented WISA and the FSF will withdraw any and all objections, and any existing policies which support such objections, to other professional football clubs playing MKDFC in pre-season friendly fixtures. WISA and the FSF shall also similarly withdraw their policies of calling for supporters of other clubs to boycott attendance as away supporters at MKDFC home fixtures in all competitions and friendly matches.
- WISA and the FSF will not object to applications for funding by MKDFC to the Football Foundation or other bodies which should be assessed against the same criteria as any other club.
- The FSF and WISA confirm that they do not expect MKDFC to implement the recommendations of the FA Appeal Commission relating to maintaining links with South London, and would support moves by the club to develop its identity as a new club within Milton Keynes.
2nd April 2007 - Luton FC stadium planning application
- Planning application by Luton FC to develop land adjacent J12 of M1 for football stadium and mixed development.
- The applicants advise that they have considered the following alternative sites; Kenilworth Road, M1 Junction 11a, M1 Junction 10, Land to the north of Luton, Houghton Regis and Dunstable, Napier Park, Luton, Vauxhall Test Track, Chaul End, Land to the East of Leighton Buzzard, MK Dons Stadium, Milton Keynes
28th June 2007 - Agenda for Merton Council Committee - Wimbledon FC Patrimony recommendations
- That the London Borough of Merton accepts the patrimony of the former Wimbledon Football Club
- That the London Borough of Merton arranges for display of the said patrimony in accordance with the Deed
- Item 2.2. The owners and the council spent considerable effort in finding a suitable site for the club within Merton, one that would be able to meet the requirements for the building of stadia, but were unsuccessful.
- Item 2.4. Fans of the club in south-west London, however, created the Dons Trust, originally to marshall opposition to the move of the club, but once the move was approved in 2002, they then created a new club, AFC Wimbledon.
- Item 2.5. The patrimony, it was claimed, should not have remained with MK Dons as this was substantially a different club, and negotiations have been underway to have the patrimony returned to south-west London.
2007 - FSF statement lifting boycott of MK Dons
- Malcolm Clarke. "I should also like to confirm that, with immediate effect MK Dons supporters will now be admitted to the FSF with immediate effect and our calls for fans to boycott the club will also cease forthwith."
2009 - Interview with Horst Bullinger (Former Councillor of Merton Council, WFC supporter and member of WISA)
- Merton was in dire straits financially.
- The Labour Council was not interested in supporting Wimbledon FC's return to Merton as they failed to win any seats in Wimbledon itself.
- Merton is an artificially created borough, throwing together three areas. Wimbledon, Morden and Mitcham. These areas have not much in common and in the case of Mitcham, nothing at all.
- The Wimbledon public was lukewarm about football
- AFC Wimbledon will not be able to create a climate for football in that part of London.
- The role of WISA wasn't clear in the beginning but became clear soon afterwards when they dived head over heels into the AFC creation.
- Wimbledon FC supporters were fooled into believing the Wimbledon FC follow-on lies dished out by WISA.
- The fans did let the club down. Their behaviour was quite disgraceful and must have affected the team's performance during all home matches at that time.
- There was no sign of sufficient fan support for Wimbledon FC regardless where in the area a stadium would have been built.
- "As an ex Womble, as far as I am concerned MK Dons are the proper follow-on club from the old Wimbledon Football Club, regardless of all the nonsense dished out on the 'Franchise' issue.
- As a local Councillor in Merton I had the doubtful pleasure of witnessing the cloning of AFC Wimbledon.
- This was a cheap way out for the Council and an easy way out for the fans. The Council avoided giving proper assistance to Wimbledon FC for staying in Wimbledon. In the end they couldn't find a place for their AFC creation in the Borough either and they ended up in Kingston.
- There was simply not enough money available for supporting the WFC.
- The move away from Plough Lane was necessary, as the facilities were poor
- The name died, but the ingredients survive at MK Dons as a new shell for them. One should look on the bright side of life, rather than death. Merton Council, Sam Hammam, the Norwegians and Pete Winkelman were involved in this process. But Peter Winkelman in a positive way, because without him the funeral would indeed have taken place.