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History in the Making

MILTON KEYNES DONS

SUPPORTERS ASSOCIATION

Email: archive@mkdsa.org.uk

The facts of the move from Merton

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Milton Keynes Dons are one of the most controversial football clubs in recent history and consequently have been the subject of constant interest from media publications and social networking websites. 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"

Link to Document

 

11th October 1993 - Minutes of Wimbledon FC Board Meeting

Link to Document

 

1994 - Chairman's Report for the Wimbledon FC AGM

Link to Document

 

22nd February 1996 - Minutes of Wimbledon FC Board Meeting

Link to Document

 

4th July 1997 - Letter from Sam Hammam to Merton Council

Link to Document

 

14th January 2000 - Letter from Sam Hammam to the Norwegian owners of WFC

Link to Document

 

14th May 2000 - Wimbledon FC relegated from the Premier League

 

2nd December 2000 - Report by Kris Stewart (WISA) of a meeting with Charles Koppel

Link to Document

 

19th January 2001 - Letter from Pete Winkelman to MK Council

Link to Document

 

6th February 2001 - Report for MK Council’s Community Committee on the Denbigh North Site by the council’s head of legal and property services

Link to document


2001 - Average attendance at Wimbledon FC dropped 54% from 17,157 to 7,897 after relegation


2001 - Financing a new stadium

Link to Document

 

20th June 2001 - Result of enquiry into use of the Greyhound Stadium

Link to Document

 

2nd August 2001 - Wimbledon Football Club announce 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

Link to Document

 

January 2002 - Judicially appointed arbitration panel rule that the Football League decision was legally flawed and their processes unfair



 

8th February 2002 - Wimbledon Guardian interview of Louise Carton-Kelly (Dons Trust)

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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 the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association (WISA)

The move to Milton Keynes had not been confirmed and was not mandatory at this point

 

30th May 2002 - Registration of afcwimbledon.co.uk by AFC Wimbledon Ltd

The move to Milton Keynes had still not been confirmed and was not mandatory when the registration took place

 

30 May 2002 - WISA AGM

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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)

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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 enters administration whilst still at Selhurst Park 

 

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

Link to Document

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.

 

10th June 2003 - BBC: Dons reject Luton merger

Link to Document

Luton's Chief Executive had suggested a merger with Wimbledon FC

Administrators stated that the proposal was not attractive

They were pursuing negotiations with a consortium of businessmen in Milton Keynes

The MK Consortium would need £5million to take control of the club

The administrators meet with the Football League to discuss the situation on Thursday

The club can't survive on the crowds it was getting at Crystal Palace

Luton wanted to merge with Wimbledon FC to buy a promotion into League One

Wimbledon would attract crowds of at least 6,000 in Milton Keynes which would make it viable

 

16th June 2003 - The Lawyer

Link to Document

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.

 

10th July 2003 - Telegraph: Three weeks for the Dons to save themselves

Link to Document

Wimbledon FC could fold by the end of July 2003

Charles Koppell had put together a consortium including a Stock Exchange listed company and other investors

Koppell's consortium brought an £8.5million funding option

There was a meeting at Euston to discuss the proposal

Present at the meeting were John Cove (Milton Keynes Council) and Pete Winkelman

Pete Winkelman refused to agree to the proposal as he wanted a 51% share of the Milton Keynes project on the basis that he had an exclusive 10 year option on the land for the stadium which was key to the deal.

Winkelman had put together his own consortium which was believed to include Abbeygate Developments and was raising a £5million funding option

Selhurst Park was no longer a viable option

Sam Hammam had offered £1.5million to take 4 players to Cardiff City

Koppell said that due to the lack of support from the Milton Keynes Consortium his proposal had been withdrawn. 

 

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

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

Planning report on proposal to redevelop Plough Lane as mixed use development including housing

 

2004 - Pete Winkelman Interview for 4-4-2

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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 was not mandatory

Link to Document

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.

 

6th January 2006 - Statement from National Council of Football Supporters Federation

Link to Document

MK Dons does not represent the community of Wimbledon and cannot morally lay claim to the history and honours of Wimbledon FC prior to 2002.

AFC Wimbledon is not legally the same club as Wimbledon FC

Two new Football Clubs were formed following the appeal decision.

Neither MK Dons Football Club or AFC Wimbledon should lay claim to the history of Wimbledon FC prior to 2002.

The right course of action would be to place honours and memorabilia relating to Wimbledon FC prior to 2002 on public display in the Borough of Wimbledon with a statement outlining the history of the matter

 

3rd May 2006 - The Dons Trust were engaged with WISA in preperation of The Accord

Link to Document

Dons Trust were fully aware and supportive of WISA in the Accord negotiations

The Dons Trust saw no need to duplicate their work

 

6th June 2006 - Freedom of Information from MK Council regarding Stadium MK

Link to Document

In July 2003 MK Council entered a legal agreement with Inter MK Ltd, Asda and the Commission for the New Towns (EP) to develop land at Denbigh

Agreement was to build a Stadium, Arena and Asda store together with other enabling properties and associated highways

The agreement had conditions that Inter MK Ltd and Asda would secure planning permission for the stadium and store, that Inter MK Ltd would secure a legally binding agreement that Wimbledon FC would re-locate to the stadium with the consent of the FA and that Inter MK Ltd would arrange a building contract for the stadium 

Once the conditions were satisfied and the new stadium achieved the agreed specification and licence from the Football Licensing Authority, EP and the Council would transfer their freehold interests in the site of the new Stadium to  Inter MK Ltd (or subsidiary company).  

This transfer contains a restriction that in the event Pyramid 6 football ceases to be played at the Stadium for a continuous period of 2 years then the freehold interest in the Stadium will be transferred back to the Council for a nominal £1 consideration.   This restriction will be registered against the title to the Stadium and as such, will be binding on the Inter MK Ltd and any future owners of the stadium.

If Inter MK Ltd makes any profit from the development, EP and the Council will receive a percentage of the profits. These payments will be minus reimbursement to Inter MK Ltd for costs incurred in the development - excluding costs for the operation of the Football Club as a going concern.  Any new owner would be bound by the same obligations.    

The “development costs” exclude any costs relating to the acquisition of Wimbledon Football Club from the administrators and its relocation to Milton Keynes.  

The Council does not have any agreement with Inter MK Ltd or Asda relating to the MK Dons training facility at Woughton on the Green.  Any arrangements are between MK Dons and Milton Keynes Sports Club.  

 

2007 - Terms of The Accord

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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

Link to Document

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)

Link to Document

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 Pete Winkelman in a positive way, because without him the funeral would indeed have taken place.

 



8th January 2002 - Hayden Bridge Residents Press Release

Link to Document

 

29th January 2002 - Football League refer the matter to an independent FA Commission


8th February 2002 - Wimbledon Guardian interview with Louise Carton-Kelly (Dons Trust)

Link to Document

 

2002 - Letter from Charles Koppel to Kris Stewart (WISA) about returning to Merton

Link to Document

 

2002 - Letter from Charles Koppel to WISA about move to Milton Keynes

Link to Document

 

28th May 2002 - Summary of the Commission’s decision

Link to Document

 

30 May 2002 - WISA AGM

Link to Document

 

11th June 2002 - AFC Wimbledon Ltd Incorporated


12 July 2002 - Letter from Wimbledon FC to fans

Link to document

 

10th December 2002 - Report by Denton Wilde Safte - Franchise United

Link to Document

 

1st April 2003 - London Assembly enquiry into the future of London Stadia (Koppel and Nodes evidence)

Link to Document

 

2003 - News article: MK City fighting for survival

Link to Document

 

June 2003 - Wimbledon Football Club enters administration whilst still at Selhurst Park 

 

June 2003 - Broken Dreams... Broken Promises

 

10th June 2003 - Luton Town propose merger with Wimbledon Football Club

Link to Document




 

10th June 2003 - BBC: Dons reject Luton merger

Link to Document