Wimbledon Football Club was an English football club. The club began in Wimbledon in 1889. In 2002 it moved to Milton Keynes and it 2004 it changed its name to Milton Keynes Dons F.C. Many football fans in Wimbledon did not agree with the move. They decided to start a new club there, which is called AFC Wimbledon.
First move: out of Wimbledon[change | change source]
In 1992, the club decided that its ground at Plough Lane was too small and moved away from Wimbledon to Selhurst Park in Croydon. This ground is owned by Crystal Palace F.C.. They stayed there for the next 12 years.
Second move: out of London, to Milton Keynes[change | change source]
In 2002, the club's owners decided that they wanted to move the club out of London. Nobody really knows why they wanted to move. They said that there were too many clubs in London, that not enough people were coming to watch the matches. This meant that they did not collect enough money at the gate to pay everyone and that is why they could not afford to stay. They looked at Cardiff and Dublin before deciding to move to Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes is a new city that is 45 miles (or 75 kilometres) north of London. When they said what they wanted to do, most of their fans stopped paying to see matches, which meant that they had even less money to pay everyone.
Before the move could happen, they had to get permission from the Football Association (the FA). The FA is the association of all the football clubs in England. The clubs elect a Committee to decide what to do about things. Most things they have to decide are easy but this was not easy to decide. Or maybe they knew what to decide but did not want to be the ones to decide it. So they asked three clever men to study the problem and tell them what would be best to do. These three men said that the club should be allowed to move.
Some members of the Committee did not like this decision and tried to stop it. But the owners of Wimbledon F.C. said that they would get a judge to decide (in a court) if anyone tried to stop them. It costs a lot of money to go to court and whoever loses has to pay for everybody. The other clubs would not agree to pay if this happened, so the FA had to disagree the move.
But it was already too late for the owners of Wimbledon F.C. They had no money left. They had borrowed money from the bank to keep going but now the bank wanted its money back. When you cannot pay back what you borrow, this is called "going bankrupt" and that is what happened. Luckily (or unluckily, depends on your point of view), the group in Milton Keynes that first wanted them to come, still wanted them. So this group paid back some of the money and in 2002, the club moved to Milton Keynes. They began playing in the National Hockey Stadium, beside Milton Keynes Central railway station and stayed there for two years until their new stadium was ready (2006).
Many football fans around England did not like the idea that a club could move. They believe that a club belongs to a town and it is not like a furniture shop that closes down in one town and opens in another town. Another reason that they did not like it is that they would love to see their own club get into the Football League. The only way that they can do that is if they win their regional league, then win the Football Conference. So they felt that Milton Keynes was "jumping the queue" to get into the League. Because of this, many fans refused to attend ("boycotted") any games they played
Milton Keynes[change | change source]
In 2004, the new owners changed the name to 'Milton Keynes Dons F.C.' (usually just 'MK Dons'), which combined the name of their new home ('Milton Keynes') with the nickname ('Dons') from Wimbledon. With this, Wimbledon FC ceased to exist.
But the boycott continued. In 2006, the Football Fans Federation proposed a way forward. The most important thing for the town of Wimbledon was the trophies (cups, shields) that the club had won when it was called Wimbledon F.C. The agreement was that Milton Keynes Dons F.C. would give these trophies to Merton Borough Council, which is the local government area that contains Wimbledon. The league history of Milton Keynes Dons F.C. would start from 2004 which is when they changed their name. The Fans Federation would ask fans to end the boycott. Everybody agreed and this is what has happened.