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    Milton Keynes Dons Football Club


    MK Dons.
    MK Dons.

    Decision on Dons fans may be deferred

    MK Dons supporters may have to wait until June 2005 to find out whether they've been accepted into the Football Supporters Federation. Katy Lewis was at the Southern Division Regional Meeting.


    Representatives from football supporters clubs in the south of England have decided that MK Dons supporters may have to wait until June 2005 to find out whether they've been accepted into the Football Supporters Federation (FSF).

    Their application to join the FSF caused heated discussion when it was put before the Football Supporters' Federation's regional branch, and as a result, the Southern Division recommended that the decision should be defered to the organisation's
    National Conference next June, rather than be made at the National Council level, whose next meeting is on 12 December.

    MK Dons fan
    MK Dons fan at their first match in Milton Keynes

    Because of the controversy surrounding the move of Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes and the subsequent name change to the Milton Keynes Dons, any issue to do with the club now causes mass discussion.

    But members of the Milton Keynes Dons Supporters Association will wonder why, as fans who spend money to watch their team play, they may be excluded from joining a democratic organisation that represents supporters everywhere.

    As usual with the MK Dons - it is not a cut and dried issue, so we spoke to both the FSF and the MK Dons Supporters' Association to get both sides of the story.

    Voice

    The Football Supporters' Federation is a voluntary organisation which campaigns for the interests of football fans at all levels of the British game. From ticket rip-offs and  television-related fixture disruption to the treatment of fans by police both at home and abroad, the FSF provides a voice for the ordinary supporter.

    With an elected National Council, the FSF seeks to campaign and influence by lobbying government and meeting with the various football authorities. They also comment and contribute on all major issues that affect fans, by supporting and articulating fans’ views.

    Therefore, both individual fans and local supporters’ organisations seek to become affiliated to the FSF so that they too can have a say.

    The FSF currently represents over 130,000 football supporters and says that they welcome contributions from all football fans about any football related issue.

    So it was only a matter of time before the recently formed MK Dons Supporters Association would apply for affiliation, as any Supporters Association might. They are fans who put money into watching their team and as such, in theory, have as much right to a voice as anybody. But is it as simple as that?!

    The history of the MK Dons, or rather the history of how the MK Dons got to be playing in Milton Keynes, as even the history of the club is under dispute, will always cause controversy amongst football supporters.

    Many fans from all clubs were appalled by the decision to allow Wimbledon to move to Milton Keynes and as such the FSF has been heavily involved in the ani-franchising movement with AFC Wimbledon. And as an organisation that represents the interests of supporters, the FSF would naturally be against a situation where a club was moved away from its community.

    Then again, whatever the pros and cons, the MK Dons is now in the Milton Keynes community, so should the people of Milton Keynes be penalised for trying to support a football club?

    Their application to join the FSF has now been received and each regional division was asked to make a recommendation as to whether a decision should be made at the National Council level or whether it should be defered to the National Conference that takes place in June next year.

    Contentious

    Last weekend (Sunday 28 November) the FSF Southern Division recommended a deferral to the Conference. Chairman Ian Blacklidge explained what happened and said that by making the decision at the Conference more people will be allowed to have their say about what is such a contentious issue.

    "I asked the southern division how they felt about the application because the decision hasn't yet been made as to how it's going to be done" he says.

    "The mandate I got from them is that they would prefer the Conference to decide it rather than Council so that it's all open and above board. Next summer everyone will have a chance to go to the Conference to say their piece one way or the other."

    "This is a bit of a hot potato, there's no denying that" he continues. "There are a lot of strong feelings on either side and we had already discussed how we might deal with an application, even before it arrived.

    "Obviously it's a contentious issue" he adds. "And while they [MK Dons Supporters Association] are totally entitled to make an application - as long as they are a properly constitued supporters organisation - with the history of the thing we thought we'd have a discussion because obviously we'd been involved in the anti-franchising movement with AFC Wimbledon and we backed what they were doing.

    "Some people say that if we allow them in (to the FSF) we are tacitly agreeing to franchising."
    Ian Blacklidge, Football Supprters Federation

    "We've fought franchising all the way and obviously this is going to have a knock on effect on how people judge the application."

    However, people not so closely involved might argue that the people of Milton Keynes had nothing to do with the move to MK.

    Whatever has happened in the past, they now have a football club and are trying to build it and so would like to be affiliated to the FSF. And after all, the FSF prides itself on being a democratic organisation.

    Ian says that while some people accepted this, it was important to look at the wider implications for football.

    "Some people in the FSF do say that we've got to move on from this" he says.

    "But it's got to be remembered that at the time the FA told us that this would never happen again, but it's now three or four years later and we're still waiting for them to come out and change the rules so that it doesn't happen again."

    Issues

    Ian uses the example of his own team Wycombe Wanderers to make the point.

    "It does worry you that it could happen again" he explains. "We (Wycombe Wanderers) have been going for nearly 120 years and it took us over 100 years to get into the Football League. The people of Milton Keynes have basically had this team given to them. They've not had to go through the system.

    "They've got a team in an artificial position" he continues. "I would personally have a lot more sympathy with them if they said that they were going to resign from the Football League and start at the lowest level of senior football.

    "Then they would have a lot of backing from people within the supporters' movement."

    "As time goes on, there will be more people who go a long and don't know the history" he continues. "But there are bigger issues at stake here.

    "The FA have still not come up with concrete proposals to stop this ever happening again and we were assured this was a one-off decision.

    "It may be nothing to do with the people of Milton Keynes but there are wider implications for the game. Some people say that if we allow them in (to the FSF) we are tacitly agreeing to franchising."

    Support

    Mark Payne made the application for the MK Dons Supporters Association and says that they just want to support their football team and move on.

    "We're just football fans" he says. "We just want to get on with it, support our club and represent our members as a Supporters Association and their views as part of the national game.

    "It's not a real immediate problem but there's a moral issue" he continues. "We have a number of members who we feel have a right to be represented and why on earth shouldn't they be?

    Laying the pitch
    Laying the pitch at the National Hockey Stadium

    "Nothing's going to happen if we're not members, but it's what can happen if we are that's important."

    And as far as franchising is concerned, he says that despite their history, nobody wants what happened to Wimbledon to happen to anybody else's club and that solidarity is needed among football supporters when other clubs get into trouble.

    "We wrote an open letter to the FSF and also to all of the Football Trusts in England Scotland and Wales" he explains.

    "Part of the content of that letter said that from the MK Dons Supporters Association's perspective we do not think franchising is the right thing to do.

    "However, where it's a decision between move or die, we believe that to move is the right answer, when it really is the only answer and absolutely every other answer has been explored.

    "We don't see it as being the right thing to do in any other circumstance" he added.

    To that end, he revealed that they are actively working to support Wrexham FC, the latest club to be in financial difficulties, and their campaign to save the Racecourse.

    "We are working to support Wrexham in a number of different ways" he says. "Because they are in a situation where they could end up moving a significant distance away from their conurbation and just like any other football club we don't think that's right.

    "We will do whatever we can to play our part as part of the football club community to stop it happening. So no - we don't think franchising is right."

    Independence

    Mark also confirmed that in every other way, their application contained everything that the FSF required and more, including an equal opportunities policy throughout their committee and a child protection policy. They also have a register of members' interests which will answer any concerns that about the Association's independence from the club.

    "We are way over and above what they require and we've been congratulated on what we consider to be best policy" he says.

    "I spoke to them at the outset to make sure that we were doing everything properly and we had everything they needed and more."

    He also explained that while they are completely independent of the football club's board, they had to have some kind of relationship with Chairman Pete Winkleman in order to shape their future.

    "A number of my colleagues on the committee feel that the right thing to do is for the fans to ultimately own a stake or even own the whole club" he says.

    "That's not a cheap thing and it doesn't happen overnight so we need to be in a position where Pete makes shares available for people to buy and then for us to have the money to do so. We have to have a relationship with him because of that."

    The next stage for the MK Dons Supporters Association application is the meeting of the National Council on 12 December, when, after hearing from each of the divisions, it will be decided whether or not the decision will be deferred to the Conference in June next year.

    Use the links on the right to hear both interviews in full.

    last updated: 07/12/04
    Have Your Say
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    Martin
    Clearly Mike has the normal mathematical genius of a Chelsea fan. 7,000+ average for the last season at Selhurst Park as Wimbledon (2001/02), 4,000+ now? You work it out. Shame it's all only a property deal anyway...

    Martin
    STEVE READ:"I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A WOMBLE, AT PLOUGH LANE, SELHURST PARK AND NOW THE N.H.S. WHY PUNISH A LOYAL FAN, IF I WAS A SPURS SUPPORTER( I DID WATCH THEM FOR A WHILE IN THE 80S).." Anyone else spot the complete hypocrisy here? Steve's such a loyal Wimbledon fan, he watched Spurs for a bit.

    Adrian
    Beurocratic drivel. It's the FSF trying to justify its position. Wake up to the real world!

    Dan
    Boo hoo. These people have had a club stolen for them, and STILL they find something to whinge about. My heart bleeds for them. I hope the FSF tells them to **** off.

    James
    Come on lads, it's only a game...

    Jason
    Pathetic - 'MK Dons' is not a football club. They'rehypocrites and theives. Just like Wimbledon were not allowed their league place, their 'fans' should not be allowed a place is FSF.

    Mike Horse
    Leave them alone, let them in. Its good that the club finally has supporters. Mike Chelsea fan.

    John
    The FSF should not allow these people to become members. If they cared so much about the rights of Football Supporters, where were they when WFC's supporters could have done with help from MK.

    Anthony Sirkett
    Mark Paynes letter includes the most hypocritical comments I have ever heard.How on earth can he sit there and decide Franchising is wrong , oh but what the hell , I'll support the MK experiment anyway.He also says it was a case of move or die.Yet another on who has been taken in by Koppel/Winkelmans lies!!

    Bobby
    ... on one more point, how can one be opposed to franchising in football if you support a team that has changed is name, changed its marketing, changed its badge, changed its kit all for the sake of a move to a different town and a supermarket contract... MK Dons isn't the same club as Wimbledon FC. The soul of that former great club now rests with AFC Wimbledon alone!

    Bobby
    Dons are going up and the Franchise going down... All this is rather academic; it's only a couple of seasons before Franchise are Non-League and we'll see where their supporters association is then! Back to the prawn sandwiches and the snow-dome no doubt! Completely disagree with the "Move or Die" rationale - Wimbledon FC (RIP) died the second it moved away from SW London! La, La, La Yellow and Blue, Yellow and Blue… Wombles!

    Sean
    You dont let Nazi's into a political debate you dont let the creators of franchsing into the campaign agaisnt it. So here we have the hyporcrsy the Club which ignored the fans views and said let them go to hell now wants to be part of the fans movement. I shall be at the COnference in June to argue strongly against an act of hypocrisy. Born ariahs you will die pariahs for your crimes

    Rob C
    If the FSF allow the MK Dons supporters in, it will be like turkeys voting for Christmas. MK Dons fans make pious comments about helping Wrexham but, if the situation had been slightly different, they would now be supporting Wrexham in Milton Keynes. They don't care about clubs or the principles of football, only their own self-interest. I look forward to attending the Conference and will do all I can to prevent this happening.

    Bob Mitchell
    Admitting them to the FSF would legitimise franchising and be a kick in the teeth to all those who have worked so hard in building up their local clubs. Taking them from non-league to a place in the football league. AFC have proved that there is a place in SW London for a local team which totally destroys the myth that Wimbledon had to move to survive. If the people of Milton Keynes had got behind their local team and earned a place in the league by legitimate means then everyone would be applauding instead of despising them.

    Colin Moulding
    In my opinion - and this is what this board trades in; opinions - supporters of the MK Dons have had a charmed life thus far, but will probably have the sorry spectacle of the club going our of business and/or the league before long. Personally I have every sympathy for David Buey not being able to watch Spurs, although if my memory serves, Luton, Watford, possibly Coventry and CERTAINLY Northampton are within easy reach of MK on public transport. Why he had to wait before the franchise moved is a mystery. Let the MK fans in to the federation though, gofor goodness sake. That way, they may get a little perpective on the so-called 'do or die' decisions behind franchising. In the Wimbledon/MK scenario, AFC Wimbledon resoultely refuse to die through lack of support (which I'm sure is rather annoying for Mr Buey and co), although the existing MK team, and those non-league clubs around it could probably do with some of the cash trickling in to the National Hockey stadium every week. David's strongest argument is about the local economy. MK could probably do with more job opps than SW London, although whole regions of the country have an even greater need. Sorry David, I'm with Al. The argument about franchising might be closed to you, but this news item shows that it's still alive, and you can;t bury your head in the sand whne you don't get the breaks.

    Al Crockford
    Sorry if I've caused offence. Still, Mr Buey and "STEVE R" (stop the SHOUTING Steve, please), come up with some interesting, if erratic, points. And no, you're right, I don't tend to drink in the Wetherspoons, I'm clearly a charlatan... Evenso, I remain adamantly against franchise football where and whenever it should raise its ugly head - I would argue that most football supporters, and the FSF, feel the same. But there are clearly those who feel differently. I won't attempt persuading them otherwise, but wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (aside from miserable Saturdays).

    David Buey
    I take offence to the view expressed by Al Crockford. MK fans new to football, I think not. I have supported Spurs for 36 years but do not get the chance to go week in and week out. Now I have the opportunity to watch league football locally and witness the impact it has on the local community. Yes MK is fortunate in that it got a 'ready made' club and we can debate that forever and a day but the point is that a club now exists that would not have done otherwise providing entertainment to a new generation of fans. Let us not forget either the employment it provides for players, officials and anyone involved in promoting/merchandising the game locally. No one is forcing anyone to attend their matches and by the same token those that choose to should not be vilified. Each to their own. Good Luck Milton Keynes Dons.....

    STEVE R
    HARM? BY SUPPORTING A CLUB THAT I HAVE FOLLOWED EVEN BEFORE THE F.A.CUP WIN. I MOVED FROM LONDON TO MK AND STILL WENT TO SELHURST PARK, SOUNDS A BIT MORE LOYAL THAN STATING THAT YOU WOULD LEAVE IF LUTON MOVED, KIDS ARE NOW GROWING UP WATCHING FOOTBALL, HAVING A CHANCE TO PLAY FOR A CLUB, MK WOULD HAVE HAD A CLUB IF THE BOSSES DIDNT SWINDLE ALL THE MONEY OUT OF THE CLUB, AND AS FOR GOD FORBID MK! WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DROVE THROUGH THE CENTRE OF LUTON?. IT ONLY GETS AN ATMOSPHERE WHEN INDIA OR PAKISTAN ARE PLAYING ENGLAND AT CRICKET, BUT SUPPORT THE AWAY SIDE, GET A LIFE, MK HAS FOOTBALL, LETS ALL JUST GET ON WITH FOLLOWING OUR CHOICE OF TEAM, THE 80'S WERE VOILENT TIMES FOR FOOTBALL, YOUR TALK CAN ONLY BUT ENCOURAGE IT,NO ONE WOULD HAVE TAKEN WIMBLEDON ON IN LONDON, MERTON COUNCIL DIDNT WANT TO KNOW, SAFEWAYS DIDNT WANT TO SELL US BACK PLOUGH LANE, SELHURST PARK WERE CHARGING US STUPID AMOUNTS TO GROUND SHARE, YES MK WAS NOT THE INITIAL ANSWER BUT BETTER THAT IRELAND, AS FOR HOSTILITY, WE WENT TO BRENTFORD A WHILE BACK AND THEIR SUPPORTERS OFFERED US LIFTS BACK TO STN WHICH WE ACCEPTED WITH THANKS,YOU'RE LUTON FANS GREETED US WELL IN WITHERSPOONS PUB WITH FRIENDLY BANTER, OBVIOUSLY YOU WERE NOT THERE, LETS GET ON WITH FOOTBALL FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF KIDS GROWING UP THAT DONT WANT POLITICS IN FOOTBALL, ONLY FRIENDLY ENTERTAINING GAMES,P.S YOU DID OUTPLAY US AND FULLY DESERVE TO GO UP, COME ON YOU DONS!

    Al Crockford
    Interesting views here. It seems that MK Dons fans - even those who have, supposedly, followed the club from Wimbledon - base their allegiance to the club rather than to the community it represents. As a third generation Hatters fan I made the decision, over 20 years ago, that I'd have nothing to do with the club if it ever left Luton. And, if I did live in MK, God forbid, there is no way I'd support franchise football. I do pity MK Dons fans, because they're new to the game and seem genuinely oblivious to the harm they're doing by supporting the continued existence of this blight on League football. They must be continually bemused at the hostility hurled upon them. Hopefully they'll catch on soon.

    steve
    so you lot would rather have let wimbledon fc die than save it, loyal supporters you are, afc are a break away club, i as a dons fan wish them all the best and can see them climbing the league hopefully to shut some of you so called loyal fans up,oooh shall i support man u, arsenal or liverpool this year??? at least we followed the dons throughout the ups and downs, afc, get up in the league and shut these loyal fans!!! up, a dedicated mk dons fan, ex wimbledon

    STEVE READ
    I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A WOMBLE, AT PLOUGH LANE, SELHURST PARK AND NOW THE N.H.S. WHY PUNISH A LOYAL FAN, IF I WAS A SPURS SUPPORTER( I DID WATCH THEM FOR A WHILE IN THE 80S) AND THEY MOVED SOUTH I WOULD STILL BE WATCHING THEM NOW AS YOURE LOYALTIES ARE WITH A CLUB, NAME CHANGE, VENUE CHANGE, IT IS STILL THE CLUB YOU FOLLOW, COME ON YOU DONS!

    Goody
    Why should MK Dons fans be allowed into the FSF? Where is there any justice or reason to do so? What MK Dons represent is something that goes against FSF's principles and if the FSF did let them in, they would be rather hypocritical. It's funny you know because now that MK have their club when they did absolutely nothing to prevent the franchising, they plead sympathy towards Wrexham's plight. Dreadful hypocrisy from these fans. They don't deserve a place in FSF and elsewhere on and off the pitch, deserve all they get.

    Robin
    I have supported Mk Dons when they used to be Wimbledon since 1990 and still support the same club!! So why punnish the supporters now??

    Mike
    It is very strange that the enlightened football supporters of Milton Keynes only became keen on helping other football clubs to remain in their communities after doing absolutely nothing to help Wimbledon remain in theirs.

    Graham Day
    Andy may be new at this lark, but sitting in a pub going over the minutiae of the game, sadly obssesive as it is, is what thousands of football supporters do after the match before they go home. Such social traditions clearly haven't emerged at MK yet. Hopefully, if Andy does continue following football, he'll be supporting a real club by the time he's old enough to cry into his beer down the pub like those of us who have been supporting our local clubs for years before the shame of franchise football.

    Al
    While it is true that the vast majority of Milton Keynes residents will have nothing to do with the monstrosity that is MK Dons those that do go along to support the team are as guilty as Winkelman of supporting franchising in football. Once again we hear the tired argument that it was "move or die" as opposed to a cynical property deal. The very existence of AFC Wimbledon proves the viability of a football club in SW London.

    David Hooks
    The FSF are, among other things, against franchise football. Fans who support the MK venture are thereby diametrically opposed to the views of the FSF, and should never be let in. They cannot, by definition, be regarded as supporters of the national game... if they cared a fetid flip about the future of football, they should be ashamed of themselves.

    Andy
    These people call themselves football supporters when all they do is sit around in the back rooms of pubs whinging about the minor details of football. Get a life, go to the game, have a pie and sing song and go home!! Stop trying to make football like normal politics, it isn't, it just 22 men chasing a white leather ball!!! And I love it. Come on you Whites!!!

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