Monday, 12 January 2015

Franchise FC is not a legal continuation of Wimbledon FC

The recent rerun of the 1988 FA Cup Final (Wimbledon beat Liverpool 1-0 at the old Wembley Stadium), which Liverpool won 2-1 to give them a modicum of revenge, provided a deluge of nostalgia, memories and fantastic PR for Wimbledon. It also stirred up a few people who were indignant that the BBC and the national press (almost universally) viewed the game as I have described it above - a rerun of the '88 final.

It's a perfectly legitimate opinion to believe that there is no continuation of Wimbledon FC. I think that those holding that opinion are missing out on an amazing aspect of the game, but it's their choice and they're entitled to it. In agreement with AFC Wimbledon's website, and as I've stated before, I think there's much more to a football club than just the legal entity that controls it financially and administratively. As the website states, "The supporters of AFC Wimbledon believe that our club is a continuation of the spirit which formed Wimbledon Old Centrals in 1889 and kept Wimbledon Football Club alive until May 2002. We consider that a football club is not simply the legal entity which controls it, but that it is the community formed by the fans and players working towards a common goal."

There are some that ridicule us for this belief, but that's water off a duck's back to us - we know our football club, we know what it is and where it came from. Others are entitled to their opinion, but we are the ones who know who Wimbledon's football club is.

The other side of this is the status of Franchise FC. I've written about this before and the position has not changed, no matter what wishful thinking comes from a small minority in Milton Keynes. 'Milton Keynes Dons' (as they still ludicrously title the football team) is not a 'legal continuation' of Wimbledon FC and has not been since a CVA put into force in July 2004. This CVA transferred the assets (including player contracts) of Wimbledon FC Ltd to a new company called Milton Keynes Dons Ltd. (Wimbledon FC Ltd continued in administration and was wound up in 2009.)

It's important to note that the phrase 'legal continuation' has a specific meaning - the new entity (in this case a company) takes on the legal responsibilities and debts of the old entity. I had never seen the phrase used in connection with a football club until some joker at Franchise came up with it as a wheeze some years ago - quite a pervasive and stubborn wheeze as it turns out, but still a big fat lie. It's usually used for far weightier matters relating to countries that change their name and such like, not football clubs trying to claim some shred of legitimacy.

So... CVA meets 'legal continuation' claim - and CVA wins, because the main point of a CVA is to separate a company from its past debts and stop all legal proceedings against it. In fact it's not claiming too much to say that a CVA could be renamed a 'Company Legal Discontinuation', because that is precisely what it does.

If Franchise FC were a 'legal continuation' of Wimbledon FC, then they would still be liable for all Wimbledon FC's debts and subject to all its liens and encumbrances. It isn't. Case closed.

It's a very simple matter of fact and anyone telling you different can only be ignorant of the facts or a shamefaced liar.

If anyone wants to have the opinion that AFC Wimbledon isn't a continuation then that's their prerogative, but if they also claim 'MK Dons' are a legal continuation, then they are factually and provably wrong.

I'm sure I'll still be debunking this lie in another 10 years time, but the only harm it does is to Franchise FC and its customers, as they continue to fail to properly create their new club as a Milton Keynes club, instead keeping it mired in the past and stirring up bitter recriminations. Only when they eventually come to terms with this reality will they drop the 'Dons' and get on with creating an already legally disconnected club that Milton Keynes can properly get behind.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Why don't some Franchise customers 'get it' yet?

When the Franchise FC experiment got underway in 2000 and went into full gear in 2002, it was understandable that lots of people in Milton Keynes didn't really have a clue about what was going on or even what being a football fan was all about. For them the anger and vilification that has been heaped on them for 10 years must initially have been a shock, because they simply didn't understand how fans feel about their football club. 10 years have passed though and by now they ought to be getting it, realising how much one's football club means to one and therefore why Wimbledon fans and others were so incensed about what was done. And yet... you look on forums, Twitter, Facebook and article comment sections and there are not just older Franchise customers with lack of understanding and empathy, but some of the children who've grown up with Franchise show not only the same lack of knowledge and understanding, but a really nasty streak of bitterness and hatred towards Wimbledon and its fans. Why is that?

Bunker mentality
The obvious answer is that 10 years of being one of the most hated clubs in the country has an effect. Undoubtedly they have retreated into a bunker mentality and somewhat understandably sometimes lash out at what they perceive as attacks on them. Initially they tried defending themselves with a variety of means, but all of these are pushed aside, either because they weren't relevant or they weren't true. In fact it has been a long succession of clutching at straws that they hoped would stem the tide of hate or give their club legitimacy. Let's not mince words, some of the attempted 'defences' have been outright lies cooked up those who don't care about the truth and they include increasingly twisted attempts to blame Wimbledon fans instead of those actually responsible for the move.

The blame game
Of course the main thing they blame us for is all the hate and abuse that has come their way for 10 years. That would be fair enough if it weren't for two things... one, it's not hate and abuse if it's facts and the truth, and two, we don't control what other football fans think or do and never have. Point one deserves further explanation too...

...It's not wrong to say our football club was stolen from us, it was. The fans never gave permission and received no recompense. It's not about legality and 'stolen' does not mean 'illegal'.

...It's not wrong to blame Winkelman and his associates for the move, he approached Wimbledon FC, he promised the 'free' stadium, he helped convince the 3-man Commission, he blocked Koppel's consortium and much more. Even he admits it was wrong and that he made it happen.

...It's not wrong to say we didn't desert our club, the owners deserted us for Milton Keynes. It has been proved time and time again that AFC Wimbledon was set up exactly when it needed to be in order to re-form a football club for Wimbledon.

...It's not wrong to call it Franchise FC, it is the only example since the league system was properly formed of a club moving between towns. There are a number of definitions of the word 'franchise' and the one relating to the North American sports franchising system is entirely accurate.

There are many more things, but the point is clear, these are the facts. It's not abuse, it's not a smear campaign, it's not lies - it's the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts, but that won't stop it being the truth.

What about the children?
What about the youngsters growing up in MK who have only ever known 'Milton Keynes Dons' on their doorstep as their local club. Nearly everyone, even the most dogmatic of Wimbledon fans, would have to agree that a kid just supporting their local football club is a good thing. It's a bitter pill for us when it means it's lining Winkelman's pockets, but I've never expected a 10-year-old to fully comprehend why I'd prefer them not to hand over their pocket money to Wormtongue Winkelman every fortnight. However, when they've grown up, I do at least expect them to know the facts and not the twisted pack of lies that were and are spread around by Koppel, Winkelman and their accomplices. Some of those young children back in 2003-4 when Franchise FC arrived in MK are now in their mid-to-late teens and early-20s - and a noticeable minority are repeating as gospel the lies and propaganda from the last 12 years, without the slightest pause to think that they've been lied to all those years.

Some of them do 'get it' and have had the gumption to do their own research into things, like this Charlton blogger I linked to recently (, but too many others demonstrate ignorance of the facts and, more worryingly, a vile hatred of Wimbledon and its fans. Recent forays into the land of 'tweeting' have revealed all too clearly that a number of these people exist and their inability to understand or accept the facts is a sign that they have been badly let down by their elders, either at home or at the football.

Empathy, what's that then?
The most amazing thing is that by now I expected a large number of Franchise customers to have got the football bug, fallen in love with it and therefore started to understand just why Wimbledon fans and others were so hurt, upset and angry about what happened to Wimbledon FC. Yet this empathy seems to be entirely absent. There's the odd claim of 'I know it was wrong but we've both got good clubs now, can't you be happy with that', but that's still a selfish 'just leave me alone' excuse and not a sign of empathising at all.

Trying to get them to imagine what it would be like if their club now moved to Wakefield or wherever, still seems to fall on unthinking minds. Instead of picturing how they would feel, they just say it won't happen. Maybe it's a guilt thing that means they simply can't process and accept the information?

Instead of trying to understand what happened in 2000-3 and understand why 95% of Wimbledon fans backed a re-formed club, I just see jibes about 'abandoning', delusions about 'saving' Wimbledon FC and lies about Winkelman's part in it all. Surely after 10 years there must be a few among the Franchise customers who can see past the lies and spin to the truth? If not, one fears for the future. Not for Wimbledon's football club, built on all the right things like passion, determination, loyalty and community, but for Milton Keynes' club, built on lies, deceit, guilt, hate and bitterness. It's a slow poison, but I see it clearly eating away at particularly the MK youngsters, the ones who should be taking the most from being part of a football club, but who never will be able to while it clings to past misdeeds.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Close to a breakthrough, but still deluded

Obviously not all Franchise customers are deluded nutjobs like the loudest ones on the internet, just as most Wimbledon fans aren't obsessed pedants like I am, and one does occasionally get a glimpse of some common sense. This post gets so close to addressing the only big issues that are left, but then sadly veers off into nonsense instead of following through to the common sense conclusion that anyone outside the customerbase would point out. Here's the quote:
"Doesn't the fact that we can fill the ground for a second tier England game say something about the potential for football in Milton Keynes - and in comparison the relatively low gates we still get for ordinary MK Dons games demonstrates clearly how our club has been successfully poisoned by AFC Wimbledon's propaganda lies?"
Quite rightly the poster points out that the attendances for certain events at Stadium:MK, particularly an England U21 game and even Premiership reserve sides, demonstrate there can be a big demand for football in Milton Keynes. That demand has never been in doubt for me - the people of Milton Keynes are no different from the people in any other town.
Where the poster goes horribly wrong is to blame Wimbledon fans for the poor turnouts for average Franchise games. Much as I'd like to believe it's down to us, it isn't. There are certainly principled people in MK who have looked at the facts and taken a stance to have nothing to do with Franchise, but they would have done that without any assistance from me or any other Wimbledon fan, because they've learned the facts for themselves and understand right and wrong.
Other Franchise customers blame the fact that most adults in MK already supported someone else, which is true, but it's only part of the picture. The elephant in the room that the Franchise customers on that forum can't bring themselves to point out, is that it's a big problem that their team still has a massive stigma attached to it, embodied by clinging on to the 'Dons' nicked-name.
Working out just how big the damage is to Franchise's potential support is difficult - you would need an in-depth research study conducted in an unbiased fashion to get a reasonable figure. What isn't in any doubt at all though, is that the lingering stench of the lies spread around to create Franchise FC are still warding off potential fans of a Milton Keynes football club. Because where the poster of the quote above has fundamentally gone wrong, is that what he deludedly thinks are propaganda and lies, are the truth - and many people both in MK and outside know it.
What the existing Franchise customers need to face is that if they really want to fill Winkelman's white elephant stadium, they have to address the 'Dons' elephant in the room. If they want all of Milton Keynes to embrace Franchise FC, then they're going to have to do something clear, principled and dynamic to leave all the stigma and hate behind - and the only thing that they can do to fit that bill is to drop the 'Dons'. Winkelman knew it, that's why he put the decision in the customerbase's hands - he knows if it comes from them then it transforms the club, because anything he does is tainted. So far they haven't taken the hint though. They can't ever make the Milton Keynes 'Dons' something the whole town will view with pride, but if the fans (because they would be if they did it) make the running on the name change, the whole club will be transformed. They will hate me saying it, but it's true. If they took action then the whole football community would applaud them, even many Wimbledon fans. 10 years experience of all this tells me not to hold my breath for it, of course, but maybe one day someone will surprise me, look past their bitterness and hate and do the right thing. I live in hope.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The liquidation lie

I first published this over two years ago, but since it's the most common lie Franchise customers still come up with I'm bringing it to the top of the blog again. Add in the indisputable facts from the recent analysis of Wimbledon FC's accounts from 1995-2000 and you have the full story as to why it always was a complete lie that the club was going to go bust. Here's the post from 6/9/11...

It's amazing that even now, one of Koppel's great lies is still doing the rounds and treated by many as fact - the lie that Wimbledon FC were certain to go into liquidation without the MK move. And it is a lie. We knew it then and it hasn't got any more true in the intervening years. One can only presume this particular lie is still around because the Franchise customers cling to it as their last desperate attempt to show it wasn't all about building a supermarket, but that there was a company and jobs to be saved. The trouble is, it simply isn't true and, all these years later, they are still clinging to this complete myth.

First things first... Koppel did indeed threaten the club with liquidation (this from May 2002):

"If it rejects our proposal we will have to look at the club's future. It'll be up to the administrator to decide whether the club is financially viable."
"He may decide there's no option but to liquidate."
Note the key word here - "may". Not a certainty, just a possibility. And why would it only be a possibility? Because there were other options open to the club. Even in this short statement Koppel is having to concede that.
And let's be clear, it wasn't even certain at this point that the club would go into administration, again this was just a threat Koppel made prior to the Commission. He was keen to talk up the financial difficulties as much as he could:
(NB Important to note here that this piece is from 1st May 2002 and Koppel is expecting to play the following season in Milton Keynes at one of the two temporary stadium sites. That is what was expected when the Commission's decision was made and that is why a Wimbledon club had to be reborm immediately. Accept no revisionism from those who have created the lie that AFC Wimbledon was formed too soon.)
So Koppel is threatening imminent financial meltdown. But that's something we have seen dozens of times previously, from football clubs in particular, accompanied by screaming headlines about 'X number of days to save the club' and so on. Certainly Wimbledon FC had some major financial problems to address, of that there is no doubt, but already we've seen that even Koppel was not saying the club would be liquidated, just that it was a possibility - there is a world of difference between those two things.
The last full accounts we have for Wimbledon FC are for the year ended 30th June 2001, and they do indeed make for poor viewing:
Operating loss: £7,069,128
Loss for the year: £6,607,816
Looks pretty bad, right? Well, it does until you realise this is a football club that had sold players on at considerable profit for its entire time in the top division. Look deeper and a different story appears. There's a note in the accounts that says:
"Post year end sales of player registrations amounted to £5,540,000."
Whoa! That's the loss for the year nearly completely covered. Dig deeper...
Intangible fixed assets - £8,179,007
This largely covers player registrations. It's an accounting procedure to reflect the value of their contracts within the accounts - and these are audited accounts remember. Even by this measure the club has an awful lot of valuable player assets on the books. And even taking Koppel's unaudited claimed £8m loss for the 2001-2 year (audited accounts were never filed, so all figures presented to the FA Commission remain questionable), that doesn't allow for the transfer fees for the likes of John Hartson, who was sold to Coventry in February 2001.
And even Koppel is admitting in the Telegraph article by Mihir Bose that massive savings can be made by cutting player salaries. Yes that would have major implications for the playing squad, but like Leeds, Plymouth, Portsmouth and any number of other clubs both before and since Wimbledon in 2002, savings could have been made and the club could have lived within whatever means it had.
Even a cursory study of these facts, conducted nine years later, quickly reveals that liquidation was certainly not inevitable and, in fact, highly unlikely... as I'll now explain.
Even if Koppel had gone through with putting the club into administration (bearing in mind we'd be talking about 2002 here and in a world where the FA Commission had refused permission for the move), then how likely is it that the administrator would have liquidated the club? And bear in mind we are already into the realms of supposition, so this idea of guaranteed liquidation is already a nonsense.
The reality is that an administration period at Selhurst Park probably wouldn't have gone much differently to the one that actually occurred, but with one major difference - the fans would have been on-board with trying to save a club that would by then be sure to remain in London. There would have been a fire sale of players, a new deal would have had to be struck at Selhurst Park (Ron Noades has already confirmed in his 2002 radio interview that this was easily done or another venue, relegation would certainly have been a likelihood. But there is absolutely no evidence that undergoing exactly the same process in south London would have meant any other outcome than similar to what actually occurred in MK. Winkelman didn't even come close to meeting WFC's debts with his 2004 CVA, yet still the administrator chose that instead of liquidation. Franchise customers will tell you that no other 'saviour' appeared in south London, but one never had the chance to, so it's moot. (Even Koppel's consortium was blocked during the actual events:

Bear in mind too, that with a move to MK thwarted, there is no guarantee at all that the Norwegian owners would have written off their investment by placing the club in administration. Faced with a reality of having to find a solution in London, there's simply no way of knowing what they might have done, but writing off a £30m investment by liquidating it is the last thing that any businessman would do, as the actual process of administration demonstrated - they even accepted a measly return on their investment from Winkelman's consortium rather than liquidate.

In the face of all this, we still have Franchise customers and others, who will blithely bring out the liquidation lie as if it's a fact - that's how pervasive Koppel's lies have become, and, as I've shown, even he never even said it was certain!

Of course, I guarantee you that those who still believe the lie will not be able to accept this or any other evidence to the contrary. It is they who have based their dogma on a lie and they who now can't accept it, because it would bring so much else of their world belief crashing down around them. The problem for them is, that most of the rest of the world can see the truth, thereby further isolating the Franchise customers who believe the lies.

And a message to those Franchise customers: We lost our football club in 2002 and we've been through the seven stages of grief: disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, acceptance. And believe me, we've done the lot, but some of you are still stuck on stage two - denial. What you lost in 2002 was the ability for Milton Keynes to create a proper football club for itself. What you are grieving over is the fact that MK's chance to make a local football dream happen died along with Wimbledon FC becoming Franchise FC and moving to Milton Keynes. But in order to move on, it's you that has to get past your denial of the truth before you'll ever reach a level of acceptance for how things really are. We aren't the ones propagating lies about the move - you are. Whether you mean to or not, that is the truth.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

An open letter to Milton Keynes fans

This is your chance. For the first and only time I'm going to address the people who could be deserving of the name 'Milton Keynes fans' instead of Franchise customers. It doesn't take much either, just a few simple requests and I see no reason why Franchise customers can't be transformed, almost overnight, into Milton Keynes fans. I'll list the requirements and then look at them in greater detail afterwards:

1. Tell your football club to drop the 'Dons' nicked-name from its team name.
2. Accept that what Pete Winkelman did in luring Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes was wrong.
3. Stop claiming any continuing connection to Wimbledon FC, other than personal supporting history.
4. Stop repeating lies you've been told about Wimbledon FC, particularly when you insist on repeating those lies to Wimbledon fans who know far better than you do.

That's about it really. Not much to ask. Do those things and I'll respect you as a Milton Keynes fan instead of a Franchise customer.

And why should you do this? Because some Wimbledon fan on the internet asked you to? No. Do it because by doing so you demonstrate to the whole football world that you actually understand WHY your club is despised as Franchise FC and WHY Wimbledon fans like me and many fans of other clubs continue to view you as customers of a franchise and not fans of a football club. Do it because you have much to gain by doing so and absolutely nothing to lose. And that last point is important - you have nothing to lose, at all, by doing what I've outlined above, but you have so much that you could gain in respect and reputation as fans, both in the short term and in the long years ahead.

Let's look at the points in more detail...

1. Tell your football club to drop the 'Dons' nicked-name from its team name.
You aren't the 'Dons', you never have been the 'Dons'. Wimbledon are the Dons (our nickname, one of many we have, comes from a school connection), Aberdeen are the Dons (their's comes from a river), Hendon are the Dons (their's comes from their town name), but you are not the 'Dons'. You are Milton Keynes and your team name should be about your town, not someone and somewhere else's. 'Dons' for you is not a badge of pride and courage, it is a mark of shame and cowardice, because you are refusing to face that you are nothing to do with Wimbledon (or Aberdeen, Hendon and other legitimate 'Dons') or its football club.

I know the dogmatic response you will give - 'we're keeping the name to honour ex-Wimbledon fans and to reflect the club's history'. These are after-the-fact attempted justifications that are completely hollow. If the name of your team should honour ex-Wimbledon fans, it would be Wimbledon FC still, not 'Milton Keynes Dons' - your fight on this was lost in 2004, it is no less lost now and it's time you recognised that. If the name of your team is to reflect the club's history, it would be Wimbledon FC or even Old Centrals. It isn't, again this fight was lost a decade ago and this pathetic claim that 'Dons' somehow gives you honour and history is a fiction that only a few of you believe.

I recognise, of course, that some of you are now so chained to the defence of the 'Dons' nicked-name, that you would probably walk away from your club if the name was dropped. (I've seen several claim exactly that.) And if you've just agreed with that sentence, then ask yourself what it is you think you're supporting? Have you become so madly deluded over the years that you would walk away from your football club because of dropping some other team's nickname, but you didn't walk away from a club that changed from 'Wimbledon FC' to the completely different 'Milton Keynes Dons FC'? Can you not see how completely illogical and mad that would be? And yet that is what you are asking others to believe you would do - you'd abandon your football club because of a name change, even though you didn't because of a previous, more radical, name change. If that doesn't strike you as being incredibly ironic, not to mention absurd, of you, then it should, because it is.

You've taken great pride in your long chants of 'MK Army' recently, well now's the time to start earning some actual respect as the 'MK Army' and to stop pretending you're the 'Dons'. Stop wallowing in the past, stop clinging on to things that aren't yours and embrace the bright future that a Milton Keynes football team actually has, because the 'Dons' is holding your team back and dragging it down, stopping you from creating a football team that your whole town can be proud of and get behind. (And yes, yes it is. Hard though it is for some of you to accept, the 'Dons' stops many in MK from being able to adopt the club as their own. Face up to it, it's true.)

2. Accept that what Pete Winkelman did in luring Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes was wrong.
It was wrong. He's admitted it was wrong. It still is wrong - passage of time has not made it any less wrong. And he's still benefitting massively from the actions he now accepts were wrong. So stop defending him and stop trying to rewrite history in a desperate attempt to prove he was right to do what he did when even he accepts it was wrong. He's wallowing in enough cash from his property deals that he doesn't need you perpetuating lies and misinformation to try to cast him in a good light.

Admitting these things about Winkelman will not somehow absolve others of blame. Do you really think any of us are going to forget what Hammam, Koppel, Gjelsten, Rokke, Parker, Stride and others did to destroy our football club? Do you really think we don't curse their names whenever the subject comes up? The only difference with Winkelman is that he's still there making money off the whole business and still lying about us while he's doing it. By constantly trying to paint him as a good guy in this, all you do is strengthen our resolve to publicise the truth about what he did. (Sound familiar? Yes, that's right, you continually strengthen my resolve to keep Winkelman being held accountable. Ironic, right? By trying to defend him you just make things worse. You should recognise this logic, because it's what you've tried using to stop me posting about all this. I know all this. I know what I'm doing. Do you?)

By all means defend yourselves as football fans, when you've earned that right, but stop defending a man who rightly receives all the disgust and disdain that's thrown his way for the things he actually did do.

3. Stop claiming any continuing connection to Wimbledon FC, other than personal supporting history.
Milton Keynes Dons is not a 'legal continuation' of Wimbledon FC, the legal entity owning the Football League share changed in 2004. Fact. End of. (As some are fond of saying.) That really should be the end of it and it is a continuing embarrassment that some of you persist in clinging on to Wimbledon connections. You have a new club, a Milton Keynes club, formed in 2004. Enjoy it, go have fun with it, but stop pretending it's anything to do with Wimbledon FC.

And if you were a fan of Wimbledon FC before supporting Milton Keynes, then fine, be nostalgic all you like for those days, revel in your personal memories, regale all you please about those times, but for goodness sake accept that you are supporting a different club now - a Milton Keynes club - because that is the cold, hard truth.

4. Stop repeating lies you've been told about Wimbledon FC, particularly when you insist on repeating those lies to Wimbledon fans who know far better than you do.
You think you know the facts because you've read some carefully cherry-picked documents linked to on your SA website? Those aren't the facts, those are historical records, some inaccurate, that tell you little unless put in context. The people most qualified to put them in context are the people who lived through those times. And yet, time after time on forums, messageboards and comments we find Franchise customers (because that's what you're back to being by doing this stuff) who weren't there at the time, spouting what they claim are facts about the move.

I know why you're doing it, you think you're defending your club, but you're not. You're spreading lies, bitterness and hate. It's that simple. You're the problem, not us. If you just stopped posting the lies about Wimbledon FC and its fans, then I and others would never have to come along and correct all of it, and by doing so drag Milton Keynes back into the mud you are so desperately trying to pull yourselves out of.

Decisions, decisions
So what's it to be? Are you Milton Keynes fans or Franchise customers? Are you embracing the future or clinging to the past?

Don't do it for me - I'm just some bloke on the internet who's holding up a mirror for you - do it because it's the right thing to do. Do it because it's the best thing for Milton Keynes' football club. Do it precisely because your football club isn't going away and you should have one you can be proud of, not Franchise FC that wallows in the past and celebrates wrongdoing. 'No one likes you' you sing - but you do care, any football fan would, so now's the time to do something about it.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Wimbledon FC finances - the liquidation lies

Time for a history lesson. Many Wimbledon fans already know this stuff of course, but if anyone has ever told you that "Wimbledon was financially unsustainable" or similar, using it as a glib justification for the Milton Keynes move, then tell them it simply isn't true and never was.

Let's start with some cold facts - Wimbledon FC Ltd's accounts from 1995-2000 (the year Winkelman approached the club about an MK move):

1994-95 - operating profit £874,757
1995-96 - operating profit £1,775,708
1996-97 - operating loss £193,539
1997-98 - operating profit £4,928,194
1998-99 - operating loss £5,236,214
1999-00 - operating loss £2,437,814

That's an accumulated operating loss over six years of less than £300k.

Yes, you read that right, over those six years Wimbledon FC Ltd was profitable much of the time and virtually broke even. It was not in a hopeless state financially and it did not have massive accrued debt - those are total fictions and accounting tricks made up later.

Now, accounts are complicated and I have very deliberately simplified things down to the operating profit/loss in order not to get mired in the details. Within the accounts are many nuances (1998's had to be restated for instance, resulting in a much larger profit figure than initially stated), but the overall picture is clear - Wimbledon FC Ltd was categorically not a financial basket case at the time of the Rokke/Gjelsten takeover ('97) and it was still financially viable at the time Winkelman approached the club with the MK scheme.

Naturally Sam Hammam will forever be damned for removing the covenant from Plough Lane and then selling it to a supermarket, but under his stewardship (sold up in '97, left the board in '00) the club itself managed to stay comfortably in business, usually via player sales. It is only after the Norwegian duo invest ('97) and then take full control ('00) that the club starts to be run differently and the losses mount up, losses that include a reversal in transfer policy with the purchase of Hartson for £7m - money that was believed to be being invested by the Norwegian duo, but was in fact just creating debt to the club's owners, Rokke/Gjelsten. It's into this situation that Winkelman appears with his promise of riches in Milton Keynes.

Understanding the timing is key to undertsanding the truth, rather than the lies that have subsequently been told.

Relegation in 2000 clearly had profound financial consequences for the club, but at that point there was nothing inevitable about what would happen next. The figures prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if the owners had sold players, cancelled contracts and budgeted sensibly for life outside the top division, then the club could have continued to operate. The owners chose not to do that, but instead devoted all their efforts to trying to secure the MK move.

You simply cannot ignore the effect that Winkelman's approach has in 2000 on the actions of Rokke/Gjelsten. Consequently one cannot do anything but hold him and the MK consortium responsible for their part in events.

The only thing the club needed saving from was two owners hell bent on moving it to Milton Keynes, when it could have gone back to being financially viable in London. As awkward as the facts are for those who wish Wimbledon FC had really been unsustainable, the accounts going back over years prove it wasn't. It means one still has to hold Rokke/Gjelsten/Koppel directly responsible for the club's destruction, but be under no illusions, without Winkelman and the MK consortium there could and should still be a Wimbledon FC playing in London. Rokke/Gjelsten/Koppel fired the gun that killed Wimbledon FC, but Winkelman loaded it for them.

Monday, 21 October 2013

On the inside looking out

It's not often I'm able to give credit to something that emanates from within the boundaries of Milton Keynes, but, as the blog I'm linking to shows, not everyone there bought into Franchise FC or the lies told to make it happen. (I know of many others in MK who stoutly opposed the move from the start and still do.)

It's a fascinating piece, revealing many of the issues I've pondered over in the last 10 years, particularly about how the youngsters that were spun the lies of Koppel and Winkelman would react as they grew up and learned the ugly truths. Of course, not all of them are able to follow the enlightened path that this Charlton fan blogger has - some will be forever blind to the truth - but for anyone that has ever doubted that there was a point trying to stop the lies of Koppel, Winkelman and some misguided Franchise customers from being allowed to spread unchecked, this blogger is living proof that it always has and always will be worth it. I don't agree with everything he has to say, but he provides an eloquent and well-reasoned counterpoint to the morass of witless, pro-Franchise jabbering that comes from most Franchise customers on the internet.