10 Years Of AFC Wimbledon: Part Two – Salt In The Wound


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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14 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    “Wimbledon finished its first season back in the Football League in eight place, just below the play-off places for a return to the Premier League.”

    It was Wimbledon’s second season in (the then) Divsion 1 of the Football League, now erroneously called the “Championship”.

  2. SW19 Womble says:

    “we are of the view that the pyramid structure is better served by giving WFC the opportunity to survive, albeit in a new conurbation.” Yep. That 3 Man Commission report is just full of amazingly idiotic comments.
    Raj Parker and Steve Stride should start a comedy duo.

  3. LadyWomble says:

    Good work again, Ian, but your assumptions about the rationale and motives for the Norwegian fishermen buying WFC gives them more credit than they deserve. The truth is more startling. At the time, Rokke and Gjelsten were two of the richest men in Europe. Having bought Molde in Norway, they wanted a new toy in the sexier English Premiershit. They lost out by just a matter of days in bidding to buy Leeds and then turned their attention to Wimbledon. Sham Hammam, despite being a shyster, could also be charismatic and persuasive and he convinced them a move to Dublin was in the bag. All it would ,ave taken was one phone call to the FAI but, like spoilt, rich brats, they wanted this new toy and they wanted it now. Zero due diligence was done and they paid Sham £25m for, as you rightly say, sweet FA. Even worse, considering they were supposed to be hard-headed businessmen and self-made billionaires, they left Sham in charge. For the first time he had (someone else’s) money to spend so there was the bizarre purchase of John Hartson for £7m. This by a club whose MO was to buy rough diamonds, polish them up and sell them on, along with our home-grown produc,, so it always broke even.

    Sham was finally booted out, with a further pay-off, and the fishermen brought in Koppel as their tame monkey. The penny had dropped that they’d been duped by Sham and they were seething. They wanted out, hoping to recoup at least some of their losses, and they didn’t care how they did it. Up pops Winkleman still seeking a club which would allow Asda/Walmart to build him a stadium/concert venue and this time he finds a kindred spirit. Amazingly, the premiershit would not countenance a franchised club so staying down in Division 2 (old money) was paramount. Even after the departures post-relegation, the remaining team had an excellent chance of going straight back up but Koppel sold whoever he could and loaned others to teams we were due to play without the usual restrictions. Concurrently, the stupid spending really started. Koppel hired an investment banker mate (not cheap), extra security for himself (so ironic), spent gawd knows how much on PR companies, law firms, etc, etc. The “we’re losing £X per week” which seemed to rise exponentially was dutifully accepted by the majority of the press and writs were issued with gusto to any of them even thinking of reporting differently, along with various fans’ organisations.

    Sorry for the long post!

  4. curranhung says:

    Steve Stride and Raj Parker have both written books. Judging by the reviews on Amazon, their books are as ill-informed and as nonsensical as their judgement.



  5. Carshalton Don says:

    Never forgive, never forget – is still in constant use among the fanbase. Its not evidence of an inability to ‘move on’ as our detractors would like to think. Its a badge of honour for our sheer determination and self drive that takes us forward. F### em all.

  6. Nathan says:

    That pointless £7m for John Hartson (Kinnear and Redknapp kick-backs and all) would have been infinitely better spent buying Plough Lane back from Safeways.

  7. FOMK says:

    The stand out thread through these articles is the claim that Milton Keynes is to blame for the demise of Wimbledon FC!

    Lets forget the managements constant complaints about the lack of support from the people of Wimbledon

    Lets forget the role of Sam Hamman

    Lets forget the role of Merton Council in selling the restrictive covenant to an asset stripper

    Lets forget the 50% drop in support following relegation from the PL

    Lets forget the fact that the Wombles had been homeless for 10 years

    Lets forget the £35m debt the club had built up

    Lets blame Milton Keynes!! SHAME ON YOU!

  8. Bert says:

    Both the covenant and Hamman are covered in the article, £35m is a made up figure and the truth easily supported by figures with-held by the club / consortium during the commission, and what have crowd size and lack of support got to do with allowing the move of a football club?

    Treating football solely as a business is completely ignoring the existing and historic fan-base and community and is one of the biggest issues facing football today, from the Premiership down.

    Try and defend Milton Keynes all you like, but they were implicit in the move via the MK Consortium with Winkleman, ASDA Walmart and the Council all protagonists, aided by a few strangers passing through the club’s 100+ year old hierarchy.

    So now we are left with a private company owning the stadium and leasing it to a loss-making football club still playing one level below where it started, and a fan owned club with its own stadium and a small, controlled debt that’s been promoted 5 times in ten years. I know which side of the fence I’d rather be on.

  9. Bald Eagle says:

    Quite simply the formation of AFC was the realisation of a long held dream of certain members of WISA to form their own club. Nothing more, nothing less. No harm in that but lets not lose sight of the fact that the proposed move to MK set the wheels in motion for them to realise that dream of their own club. Could they have fought it, you say? Well, try telling the fans of Charlton & Brighton that solutions can’t be found.

    They had an opportunity to purchase WFC and passed it up because it was easier to start all over again rather than take on the enourmous debts. Again, nothing wrong in that and completely understandable in the circumstances but I wish fans of AFCW would stop peddling the myth that the club could ever have been viable in it’s former guise as WFC. It wasn’t, and the FA Comission were at least honest enough to admit

  10. Geoff says:

    The club was viable as WFC, albeit by the unpleasant route of Administration, thus writing off the debts, which of course happened eventually anyway.

    One of the key things to remember about Wimbledon was that it was really a Division 4 club even if it was playing in Division 1 or Division 2. That was the underlying support level and that was largely the ethos of the club, which is not a criticism. It should have gradually settled back to that level, playing somewhere like errrm Kingsmeadow, if no suitable stadium in Wimbledon was available.

    I’m unconvinced that members of WISA particularly wanted their own club and by your argument they could have had that by buying the old Wimbledon and putting it in administration.

    As for MK, it is pointless to blame the people of MK. Most of them still continue to show admirable apathy over Franchise. They couldn’t be expected to cast their votes for councillors on the basis of whether a football club was being uprooted. One can of course still blame “infectiously enthusiastic” Pete – or should that be enthusiastically infectious? – and the councillors at the time.

  11. SW19 Womble says:

    FOMK – you need to get yourself educated, mate. :)


  12. SW19 Womble says:

    Bald Eagle – you’re right about a few WISA members having the dream of owning a football club – who indeed doesn’t? Yes it was a perfect storm, and for once, dreams became reality (just as happened at Chester City, occasionally these plans have to be put in place) they soon manoeuvred themselves into those positions, and good luck to them for that. They, along with hundreds of other fans, stepped up to the mark: we even had an accountant from PriceWaterhouseCoopers take early retirement to help steer the ship.
    The skillsets were there, whether they were WISA or not.
    One thing that is patently untrue is that the Nogs would have _ever_ sold the club. Both WISA and then The Dons Trust were routinely snubbed by the ownership: any attempts to buy into the club, even in its alleged financial death throws, were dismissed (strange, when you would have thought they’d be desperate for any extra income). The Nogs, through Koppel, had a battle plan – they didn’t mind chucking an extra few hundred thousand in to deliberately steer the ship onto a shallow financial reef and then claim “help help! we’re drowning!”
    And yet, they didn’t, did they?
    They somehow managed to limp along for another two years at Selhurst Park, in a far, far worse position than 2001-02. Sold the club, when the time was right, to their “preferred bidder” Pete Winkleman, who moved the club into a makeshift, rented stadium at the National Hockey Stadium (what happened to the hockey teams?). Then finally moved into their shiny property development in Denbigh. And they’re renting that too.
    I knows it’s difficult for you to appreciate how much Koppel and the Nogs treated the fans with a dismissiveness and callousness. You only have to ask the few minority shareholders in WFC Ltd how the Nogs treated them – in arranging SGMs and votes and meetings. For a stretch of over 15 years, chairmen such as Ron Noades, Sam Hammam and Charles Koppel had attempted to merge (with Crystal Palace) or move (to Dublin, Celtic or Milton Keynes) the club.
    But yeah, you know best.
    We could have stopped it yet again, this time going up against the FA, the Football League, presumably UEFA and FIFA too, if we’d _really_ wanted to.
    I bet the Nogs would have hung around for another five, six, seven years and not done anything spoilt and selfish – like deliberately destroy the club – in the meantime.
    The Nogs weren’t playing fair, you have to understand that.

  13. Nathan says:

    Bald Eagle:

    “it was easier to start all over again rather than take on the enourmous debts.”

    You mean those enormous debts that were almost totally wiped out by administration just a year later (in 2003)?

    I would have thought a Palace fan would know all about avoiding debts via repeated administrations…

  1. May 30, 2012

    […] Part Two of this story is now available here. […]

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