August 21, 2021
The arguments used in 2002 to approve the move to Milton Keynes struck at the heart of what fans of their local club think the game is for, as this extract from a new book shows
The battle for Wimbledon: realpolitik versus romance in football
On 28 May 2002, an FA-appointed independent commission decided by two to one that Wimbledon FC should be permitted to leave London and head north 60 miles, to the new town of Milton Keynes. One line from the report leapt immediately into infamy: the assertion that keeping Wimbledon in Wimbledon would not be in “the wider interests of football”. And returning to the decision years later, it is interesting to note how the commission understood those wider interests. In part, it professed to be worried about another team, likely Brentford, taking Wimbledon’s place in the league pyramid. But that alone would not do. The case for moving to Milton Keynes is made in terms not only practical but explicitly moral.
Reread the summary decision, and you will learn that “Milton Keynes provides a suitable and deserving opportunity”, and that Peter Winkelman believed Milton Keynes “merited having a Football club”. As we come to the decision, we hear that Milton Keynes has been “starved of First Division football”, and the case for moving is “unquestionably deserving”. That “unquestionably” sits rather awkwardly with the fact that the committee itself could only come to a majority decision, but summary reports are written by the victors.
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