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Déjà vu 30/05/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

I think we’ve been here before.

 Everyone has a position on this.  The Franchise thing isn’t really something that merits any more debate – either you find it utterly repulsive or you don’t.  But given that quite a lot of people do, enough to have provoked the cancellation of Watford’s last ill-advised attempt to arrange a friendly with Franchise a few summers back, quite why the club feel that the passage of time would make the idea any less repellent to those concerned is beyond me.  This isn’t something that’s done and dusted, something to move on from.  The MK Franchise’s cuckooing within the Football League structure hasn’t grown out of being an abomination.

In particular it strikes me as odd in the context of the club’s ongoing dispute with the Watford Observer, that they should choose to risk alienating yet another section of their support for the sake of a pre-season friendly.  This betrays a serious lack of judgment at best, and a peculiarly antagonistic decision at worst.

 Watford claims to be a club that values its role in its community.  The very existence of the Community Sports & Education Trust bears testimony to this.  As such it strikes me as odd that a pre-season friendly against  a club defined by a disregard for its original community should be deemed appropriate.

The Official Site’s announcement, trumpeting the fixture wholly inadvisedly, includes the assertion that “the club have forged links with the Dons over the last year” on the basis of two loan moves.  It’s a rather depressing reflection of the perspective of the club that this relationship is deemed more profound than the links formed with AFC Wimbledon supporters.  Five years ago many of us protested with fans of the old Wimbledon as their club was in the process of being wrenched to Milton Keynes.  This was before a match televised by the ill-fated ITV Digital, during which pundit Graham Taylor was more explicit in his distaste for the MK charade than his studio colleagues had perhaps anticipated.  More recently a coach was organised to carry Watford supporters to Kingsmeadow to watch AFC Wimbledon as Watford travelled to play the Dons.  Watford supporters are shareholders in AFC Wimbledon, and some have supported the fledgling club more explicitly still. 

 So I’m afraid that I can’t share the Official Site’s delight at the prospect of being amongst the first to visit the Franchise’s new stadium.  I won’t be doing so.  If you’re coming from a similar position to me, I’d suggest contacting the club with a view to the cancelling of the friendly as soon as possible.


1. Rupe - 31/05/2007

What a surprise to see you nearly exploding at the thought of this Matt. You would think we were the Allies in Escape to Victory agreeing to play the Nazis the way you have reacted.

The people who call MK Dons ‘franchise’ and who gave horrendous abuse to MK dons fans are utter, utter morons.

The truth of the matter, which they refuse to accept is that Wimbledon have never been welcome as a professional club in their own borough of Merton. The council and the majority of people in Wimbledon never wanted a big club there. That is why Plough Lane was not redeveloped and that is why they had to move to Selhurst.

In fact, when AFC wanted to move in and and improve Tootings ground which is in the borough of Merton, the council refused permission.

Moving to MK was the only thing that could have kept the club going as a viable entity. The Wimbledon fans should have realised that and either made the journey or set up their own pub team which they have.

Part of me actually wants them to go up several divisions and then we will see what they will do about having a Premiership ground in their own borough.

2. RB - 31/05/2007

So because you don’t like it you want to cancel it for those WFC fans who either aren’t bothered by the events of 5yrs ago or who actively supported the move to MK? You yourself admitted that there are people who aren’t repulsed by this friendly so why spoil it for them? This is an opportunity, from my perspective, to visit a new stadium with easy transport links (certainly easier than Northwood/Borehamwood in the evenings) and to watch our team participate in a pre-season game against an up-and-coming League 2 team.

I don’t wish to re-hash the old debate so I won’t but will finish by asking you instead of lobbying for the match to be cancelled to simply not attend and protest in that way.

3. Matt Rowson - 31/05/2007

Rupert, Plough Lane wasn’t redeveloped because Sam Hammam flogged the site to a supermarket and pocketed the proceeds. He then turned down several sites in Merton because the council wouldn’t pay HIM for the privilege of moving the club there. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your vacuous blinkered diatribe, i can only think that further similar contributions will strengthen the argument against Franchising. That you suggest that “the club” in MK is in any way the same club as Wimbledon is laughable. A club is its location, its community, its fanbase. All changed. Even the playing and management staff of Wimbledon have moved on, as such are wont to do. And yet you talk about the club “surviving”? In what respect exactly?

RB… fans who actively supported the move, or actually those who weren’t bothered, have such a different perspective of what supporting a football club is all about to me that I really couldn’t be less interested that they might miss the chance to cross off a ground. Or, heaven forbid, that they might have a slightly more awkward journey to a pre-season friendly. Perish the thought. Make sure you nip into ASDA whilst you’re up there though, eh?

4. RB - 31/05/2007

I’ll pop by the (sour) grape section and think of you! Seriously though, this whole issue is long since done and dusted. MK Dons will not cease to exist if WFC subsequently withdraw their acceptance of a friendly match. So surely you should be writing to every club who will be playing MK Dons this summer if indeed you have such a wide view of what being a football supporter is all about? All the best with your campaign!

5. Rupe - 31/05/2007

Matt, I suggest you take a look at


I am not sure why you ignore the actual FACTS that Merton council and a great deal of its residents have made it very clear that football is really not quite welcome in their borough.

Again, I put it to you, if Merton council were so keen for football to re-establish itself in the borough, why did they refuse permission to move into and expand Tootings stadium?

The club when they made the move to MK made every effort to include the supporters of Wimbledon, with free buses to games etc, yet were met with vicious abuse.

6. Matt Rowson - 31/05/2007

RB – we’re obviously not going to agree on this, and seeing as we’ve both stated that we’re not going to reopen this debate we’re doing a good job of discussing it. But although you hold a different perspective, I don’t see why you expect me to have changed my mind simply because MK have gotten away with it? No, I don’t have to like it. Yes, MK should be treated as a pariah club. Yes, I would rather that nobody played MK, but I’ll stick to pressurising Watford for the timebeing and see where that goes.

Rupert, you’re a parody of yourself. Check out the footnote of the linked item. Hilarious. (And you didn’t answer my question, incidentally)

7. Rupe - 31/05/2007

The club have survived because with the new stadium in MK they have the chance to watch, in time, Premiership football in their own ground.

I put it to you, what would happen if AFC reach the Championship or Premiership? Do you think Merton Council will provide a 20,000 plus stadium out of council funds magically? It ain’t ever gonna happen and you know it yet carry on with the idea that the borough of Merton are utterly desperate for a big football team there.

8. Matt Rowson - 31/05/2007

Rupert, by what definition is it the same club? Who are “they” that would choose to watch a different club in a different stadium in a different part of the country? You’d feel the same if it was Watford relocating to Loughbrough or somesuch, presumably?

As for Merton Council’s opposition… however committed that opposition was, surely that’s no justification for franchising the club to MK? If council obstructiveness was justification for ripping up a football club there’d be precious few left standing – Brighton springs to mind.

9. Stuart - 31/05/2007

If I go to this pre season friendly, does that make me a bad person or reflect badly on me? I don’t know, please can you enlighten me.

10. Matt Rowson - 31/05/2007

You certainly won’t get any photos of your courgettes on BHaPPY again…:)

11. Rupe - 31/05/2007

Matt, if Watford played in a ramshackle dump ie Plough Lane and were unable to build a Championship/Premiership sustaining ground and had to move to Loughborough then I would have to consider whether I would rather make the journey or watch a reformed pub team a la AFC Wimbledon.

Brighton is quite similiar to Merton, to the extent that a great many of its population actually don’t want a football club there. I don’t condone this in any way, but its fact.

I simply don’t believe you can call them a franchise. At the time, Wimbledon were a championship club. They couldnt move to a 4,000 capacity stadium where they are now at Kingstonian as a championship club without going bankrupt within half a season. There was simply no alternative at the time to keep the club going.

12. Matt Rowson - 31/05/2007

Being on the verge of Conference South is hardly pub football Rupe. That aside…

If Watford moved to Loughbrough how could you kid yourself that you were supporting the same team in opting to make that journey? Do you really think that the community of people that you watch games with would decamp to Loughbrough? What is it that you’re actually supporting is the fundamental question, and to me the last thing that Watford is is a mere corporate entity.

There are folk everywhere who would rather their local football team didn’t exist. Plenty of them voice their objection through their government representation, which is their right. But that doesn’t mean that clubs should be shunted around to find accommodating local councils. What if Leeds go bust? Given the precedent for franchising set here, what’s to stop the next crisis club being bought up by some wily punter and relocated to Leeds?

With regard to your final point, to re-reiterate, I don’t thinkanyone pretends that MK Dons are Wimbledon reincarnate any more. They are a new club, parachuted into Wimbledon’s place in the football league on the back of a property deal necessitated by planning permission requirements for a new supermarket. You’re an intelligent bloke Rupe, I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation (again).

13. Ian Grant - 31/05/2007

Sorry, Rupert, but exactly what “fact” are you quoting with regard to the population of Brighton…?

14. Rupe - 31/05/2007

That it has far more NIMBY types than most other places…

15. Matt Rowson - 31/05/2007

Ha ha ha. That’s a “fact” is it? Was that a box that I forgot to tick in the last census Rupe?

16. Rupe - 31/05/2007

Ha ha ha and homosexuals as well I forgot to add

I know thats what you thought I was implying IG

17. Stuart - 31/05/2007

Guys can’t you just agree to disagree? Personally, whilst disagreeing with the whole MK Dons, Wimbledon, Franchise, whatever situation, I guess it is something we have got to just live with. Life goes on as they say. We can show our disgust or disagreement with the whole situation, as is our right, but as we can clearly see in the world of modern day football whether it be Premier League (division 1 actually) or League Two (division 4 actually) the fans don’t have as bigger say as we want or should have. What I am trying to say is that whilst I agree with your point of view Matt, I don’t think there is anything that can be done to change the minds of the Watford board about our fixture or the situation generally. That’s just the way it is, and protest falls on deaf ears.

As far as my courgettes are concerned Matt, I think I’ve retired – after one apperance – from photographing myself and vegetables! Have you anthing planned for next season?

18. Ian Grant - 31/05/2007

Actually, Rupe, that wasn’t what I was implying. I was implying that you had no idea what you were talking about, something that you’ve now proved beyond any doubt. Good work.

19. Ian Grant - 31/05/2007

Life does indeed go on, Stuart. And you’re quite right: protest does usually fall on deaf ears. But as far as I’m concerned, this is a fundamental point of principle, something that’s right at the heart of the motivation for (ironically!) travelling a hundred miles to watch my football team. Sorry, but it just doesn’t leave any room for compromise as far as I’m concerned.

Besides, I simply don’t believe that protest is pointless. Not in any circumstances. If you don’t let the world know what you think, you can’t expect the world to take any notice. Whether it changes anything or not, it costs absolutely nothing to have your say. Nothing to lose, simple as that.

20. Stuart - 31/05/2007

I agree totally in what you are saying Ian. I suppose you have to find a medium between protesting and not protesting somewhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with protesting and I certainly don’t think it’s pointless! It is something that sets democratic societies apart.

21. Apperley 'Orn - 31/05/2007

Stuart – I agree 100% with IG. It may well often fall on deaf ears, but if enough people shout loudly enough and in unison we can, if nothing else, make the suits at the top feel a little uncomfortable for a while.

We must never allow ourselves to suffer in silence. They (the board) are not a totalitarian state, although I wonder if that is the way they are trying to go. Truth be told though, with a club the size of ours, if a sizeable number of fans make a noise they need to sit up and take notice. We simply don’t have the same level of support as the “big boys” (amen to that), so the club can’t count on someone filling the gaps left by disgruntled non-attendees.

I may have gone a bit overboard there, sorry about that, but I think you will understand the point I am trying to make…

22. Rupe - 31/05/2007

Apperley – as much as Matt is obsessed with AFC Wimbledon 🙂 I doubt he or any other Watford fan would refuse to attend any further matches just because we play MK Dons in a friendly

23. Dave Hart - 31/05/2007

As a season ticket holder for the last five years, I absolutely refuse to have my football club have anything to do with this sorry excuse for a football club. I have already contacted Watford, asking them to cancel the friendly with the Franchise. The quicker this ghastly excuse for a football club goes out of business, the better. I await Watford’s response.

On a different note, where on Earth are they going to find 30,000 fans? From the away support? Perhaps it’s time we started phoning Simon Oxley on 3CR, and tell his listeners what we think.

It’s time all football fans got together to show the public what we think of the Franchise. I, along with many others, will neither forgive or forget.

24. petebradshaw - 31/05/2007

Its quite possible that some people will stop going to Watford (at least for now) because this the straw that breaks the back of their support. People stop going all the time, all of them will have one thing that makes them say “Enough is enough”. The club seems to be going out of its way to provide such reasons. Maybe we’ll get a Fans’ Forum this year so that we can put our concerns? Then again, maybe not. Maybe we’ll get a chance to see the end of season awards. then again, maybe not. Maybe we’ll get a chance to take family to games even if they have never had their names entered on the database despite going to games for over 30 years (because on the few occasions when they couldn’t just get a ticket on the day, they haven’t actually been the named person buying tickets). Then again, maybe not.

I know of at least two people who stopped going when Lewington was sacked and haven’t been back since, despite having held season tickets for many years and even been employed by the club for a number of years in the late 80s/early 90s. One of them even went to Cardiff to drop his family off for the playoff final but didn’t go in. He has just fallen out with football because of the cumulative decisions by the management of the club (and the general corporatisation of the sport in general).

25. Rupe - 01/06/2007

Hey Pete,

I think you mean LOSINGTON not Lewington

26. Michael Phillips - 01/06/2007

Upon moving to MK there was still reasonable substance in their claims that they needed to move in order to have a large(ish) stadium. But where was the need to change their name? Surely if it was merely to enable them to play in a ‘big’ ground they could have remained Wimbledon until another option, more local to the borough of Merton became available. By changing their name to McDons they were never going to come back to Wimbledon and at that point they became a franchise.

27. Depressed :( - 01/06/2007

Some interesting points her. I was appalled at what happened with the dons all that time back too.

ONe thing I’d like to add tho, if THe local council were so dead set against a new stadium being built locally, why did theyhave to go to a place that would be inaccessibl to the local Wimbledon fans? I mean, there’s lots of places south of the river they could have relocated to but instead of locating somewhere where there would have been decent trasport links, they forced a ride into london then out or a trip round the Hell25..?

It would not be ike moving Watford FC to Loughborourough, more like moving to Brighton.

No, the move to MK was out of greed, wanting a ready made fanbase just aching for a team to support and lots of council grants to boot

28. Depressed :( - 01/06/2007

Hey Rupe, Lewigton did a great job at a time when we were in deep doo doo. We were badly in debt and he saved us from it spectacularly.

I was one of the many that was quite bitter to see him edged out for ‘Aidy back then, of course, that soon chnaged when we saw what ‘aidy did for us but Lewigton did us proud imo

29. Apperley 'Orn - 01/06/2007


Whatever you think of Lewington and the (admittedly often poor) football that was served up under his stewardship, never forget that he played a huge part in WFC remaining in existence after the Vialli debacle. He didn’t deserve to be treated that way.

Anyway, that’s slightly off topic so I will shut up on that. As for people not going to games because of friendlies with the Franchise, I agree totally with Pete. This will be the straw that breaks the camels back for some and, let’s face it, the club seem to go out of their way to give people an excuse to turn away. The attitude seems IMO to be “this is how we do things, if you don’t like it, we don’t need you so flutter off little person” – is that what you really want? I know I don’t.

30. Ian Grant - 01/06/2007

Tempting as it is to rise to Rupert’s bait, it’d be good to stay vaguely on-topic. If we start discussing Ray Lewington’s merits, I’m not going to get any work done this afternoon; let’s leave that one for a rainy day.

31. WitneyOrn - 01/06/2007

Well said Matt.

MK council/Winkleman “bought” the franchise for the entity formerly known as Wimbledon. The FA/League decided to sit on their hands, having previously denied L#ton the chance of building a stadium there.

I have no problem with MK having a Premiership team, provided they start at the bottom of the structure and fight their way up (as AFC are doing). Just buying up one with a problem at the time and taking their place in the structure isn’t on. If that’s ok, presumably somwehere like Welwyn Garden City could find a wealthy “sugar daddy” and put in a bid to take over Leeds.

As for franchise building a 30,000 seater stadium, who are they kidding? 3,000 would probably be enough most weeks!

I am e-mailing the club to voice my disquiet at them helping MK to celebrate the demise of Wimbledon.

Saying McDons now have anything to do with Wimbledon is like grandpa’s old broom. It’s had 10 new heads and 5 new handles but t’s still grandpa’s old broom!

32. Matt Rowson - 01/06/2007

On the contrary Witney.

The broom, much changed as it is, still belongs to your grandpa.

33. Stuart - 01/06/2007

My trouble is I’m addicted to Watford FC, therefore I’ll keep going and going and going, even if I strongly disagree with some of the things going on at the club at the moment.

I need help!

(Actually I would stop going if the club was moved to Milton Keynes, Winchester, Penzance etc etc etc… creating an AFC Watford would actually be quite good fun!)

34. Nick Gibb - 01/06/2007

Ah but if Witney’s Gramp’s council owned terrace in Merton was earmarked for demolition & redevelopment, as a result of which he was forcibly decanted to an MK Barratt-box but during relocation his broom was damaged beyond repair and to compensate him he was given a brand new state-of-the-art ride on Dyson vacuum cleaner (which of course comes with cushioned seat and superior Meyer sound system as standard) then could said machine still logically be referred to as Witney’s Gramp’s broom?

35. Matt Rowson - 01/06/2007

I think you’re taking the analgy a little far…

But no. It would be a fucking vacuum cleaner, obviously, not a broom. And if cleaning appliances played football, it could start at the bottom as all other vacuum cleaners have had to do.

36. plbaxter - 02/06/2007

If anyone cares about their local football team being their LOCAL football team this isn’t over or water under the bridge or too long ago to be interesting. What happened to Wimbledon was a complete betrayal of the fans made all the more ironic by the fact that all the claims about what would happen to Wimbledon if they didn’t move subsequently happened when they did.

Here’s to the MK whatsits sinking into the non-leagues football next year. Whether Watford play them or not is probably irrelevant

37. pw - 03/06/2007

Anyone asked the Kingstonian fans abut how they feel about AFC, now they’ve had their ground kind of stolen off them ?

38. OldIsthmian - 04/06/2007

It depends which Kingstonian fans you talk to. Nearly all wish that their club had been managed better by their owners from the late 90s onwards, the first set having a poor business plan that drove them to administration, the next being into asset stripping, in particular separating the stadium from the club.

Some then blame AFC Wimbledon for the whole saga, others think that given the position they were in, having landlords who care about football and provide an extremely good ground sharing deal (very low rent and they keep their matchday bar profits) is as good as they can get for the moment. The more reasonable fans of both clubs want to see success for both.

The situation with the T&M ground was that when it was built the local residents were promised that there wouldn’t be a groundshare with another team; the council then tried to arrange for AFC Wimbledon to move there but bowed to not unreasonable pressure that they were breaking commitments.

As an AFC Wimbledon fan it now comes as a pleasant surprise that some people still protest against the Franchise move. I think it remains important to protect clubs for their communities and applaud those willing to keep the battle going whilst understanding there are many who no longer or never did think it important.

39. Matt Rowson - 04/06/2007

Cheers, OldIsthmian. wrt your final paragraph, I find it very difficult to offer understanding to the alternative viewpoint. I just don’t understand that perspective at all, to the point where I’m incapable of discussing the issue without getting all hot under the collar… I guess that’s in part a consequence of only discussing the thing when issues such as this arise, whereas you’ve long since had to arrive at this point of acceptance…

40. Ed - 04/06/2007

If Watford moved away permanently, or changed its name, I wouldn’t support them anymore. I’d remember the time I supported them, and our successes, up to when it died (stopped being a local club).

MKDons brought a club’s history and league position, and killed off Wimbledon. It shouldn’t have happened, but it’s up to the MK fans to decide if they want to support the club, and by doing so give it the chance to have a future.

I’d like see MKDons drift down the football league, to where they should have started from. But then I’d care more to see Watford win their first game next season by 3 instead of 2.

I don’t think Watford should be playing MK in a friendly. I’ve no problem with them playing any club in a competitive game, no matter what they’ve done. But a friendly is meant to be mutually beneficial, and I think we should be forging links elsewhere.

41. lazza - 05/06/2007

What the hell – let’s all have a pear!

42. david c. (watford) - 05/06/2007

There was once an American football team that everyone knew as the Cleveland Browns; a brown collar working class team from a steel city that people loved because it was so gritty. Then one day a wicked man bought the team and took the hardworking Cleveland peoples’ Browns many miles away to Baltimore and re-named them the Baltimore Ravens. This was franchise football.

The people of Cleveland had lost their team; however, a few years later the league decided to admit new members and Cleveland was given a franchise which they called the Browns.

And the moral of the story: to some it doesn’t really matter what your team is called or what its heritage might be, if there is a top professional league team in town some people will still attend.

This is the franchise fan and we saw a few of those last year.
These transient supporters may melt away this season and return Watford to its heritage supporters, unless, of course, a wicked man buys up control of the team and spirits it away to L*t*n?

43. hornetboy84 - 05/06/2007

Wow ! Great debates.

Ian, Matt – you are right. This all depends on your view of what being a football fan is all about. If Watford got relegated to the conference – i’d still go. If they decide to upsticks to Chepstow to play in a new bigger stadium with more fan draw – then I couldnt go. A new Watford would rise from the ashes – and that would be my team.

I think the best way to think about it is with regards to G14 (or however many now) clubs and their push for a European League.

Y’know what – I dont give a stuff. They can go off and play in their Super-Duper Ultimo Liga and have all the TV money ever but the core English League would still survive and be as strong as ever. (plus be more competitive). People would soon get bored of Euro-bland and be gagging for real football – which is why the Championship works and why i’m looking forward to next season. Bring it on.

As for Lewington. He’s Watfords Neil Kinnock. Laid the foundations and his contribution should not be underestimated.

44. stephen hoffman - 06/06/2007

ok but forgetting aside everyone’s views on the matter a pre season friendly is met to provide competitive practice . mk dons are better than much of the opposition we are playing in pre season friendly so hopefully it will prove a tough game, which will stand us in good stead footballing wise for the rest of the season

also isn’t people’s love of watford more important than there despise of MK dons?

yer but ray lewington unlike neil kinnock didn’t say the footballing equivalent of hey we’re going up and then promptly make a complete ass of himself

45. Matt Rowson - 06/06/2007

plenty of other teams would provide competitive practice stephen, it’s not like a strong Championship side would struggle for League 2 opponents. And irrespective of your not “getting” the opposition to the MK thing, I really don’t understand why the club arranged the friendly knowing that at least a significant proportion of folk would be so against it. And they must have known, since they cancelled a friendly two years ago on the back of it.

As for what’s more important – love of Watford or despising MK Dons – it’s not really an either-or. If you love football, love the INVOLVEMENT in a local club like Watford (which is what Watford sells really, emotional involvement – if you’re going for the football you’re pretty misguided!!!) then I don’t see how you can tolerate the Franchise thing.

46. Mike P - 06/06/2007

David Hockaday* moved with Martin Allen from Franchise to Leicester today. It was him that this “special relationship” was based on. Now he’s gone, can we cancel it?

*Still involved in a “re-orginisation of the coaching staff” as far as Watford’s super-professional media department are concerned.

47. HantsHorn - 06/06/2007

I grew up in MK but left way before franchise came into existance (92). Family members remain, though, including my old man, a Watford season ticket holder. Looking from outside, Dons are great for the people of Milton Keynes, and I think that, sickening as it is, the club are on the verge of being embraced by the city. I played non-league football for one of the teams in MK who, with the right backing, could easily have crept up the non-league pyramid (MK Borough, Bletchley Town, Wolverton Town, Stony Stratford Town). None of these teams have ever progressed beyond South Midlands league standard, and the way a city can suddenly inherit someone else’s football league team, without working hard to create its own history, appalls me. The residents of Milton Keynes (no doubt including several hundred ‘orns) have very different opinions though, and I wouldn’t mind betting that very few MK-based ‘orns will miss the friendly. Personally, my despise of franchise extends to no more than a little piss-taking (there are more important things to worry about in life and I won’t be writing to Watford in protest).

How I laughed when Dons fans, dreaming of the new stadium opening with the visit of Leeds or Forest, were beaten by Shrewsbury in the play offs.

I wish AFC and their fans all the best and can’t wait for the day they come up against, and beat, franchise in a competitive match.

48. Rupe - 06/06/2007

Matt, you accuse me of ignorance yet claim that a ‘significant proportion’ of Watford supporters to be against the friendly. I would seriously doubt whether the club has received more than 100 complaints about this, and with lets say a hardcore of 10,000 supporters, that would hardly constitute a ‘significant proportion’

To also state that that you believe anyone who loves football shouldn’t tolerate the franchise is quite possibly one of the most pompous statements I have ever heard!

49. Matt Rowson - 06/06/2007

100 letters – assuming that’s the case – mean 9900 are happy as larry does it Rupert? I didn’t accuse you of ignorance, but you’re displaying such wilful stupidity that its hardly necessary.

50. petebradshaw - 06/06/2007

HantsHorn… sorry to be pedantic but Milton Keynes is not a city. It is a town and a borough. Or even a collection of towns. I lived in one of them – Bletchley – until two years ago. I’m quite liked it but am glad I don’t have to suffer what must be intolerable traffic at the Tesco/Asda/IKEA/Stadium roundabouts!!!

51. stephen hoffman - 07/06/2007

but a significant proportion of people love watford more than they hate mk dons

52. stephen hoffman - 07/06/2007

i think it is an either or i seem to remember in a fanzine ages ago someone giving stick for people singing we hate luton in 1996/1997 all the time rather than getting behind the team — it’s the same thing i support watford –that;s the be all and end all and i couldn’t care as much about other teams including mk dons — and also if you dislike mk dons so much — then wouldn’t be great from your perspective to see watford thrash mk dons

53. Matt Rowson - 07/06/2007

it’s only the same thing if you can’t see beyond the end of your own nose.

54. Paul - 07/06/2007

I’m the “old man” mentioned by HantsHorn (see #47 above); ‘Watford ’til I die!’ and all that but, nevertheless, a resident of MK since its beginnings in the 70s.
MK is a new city and no history – agreed; everyone who immigrated came with their own allegiance and I know supporters of Newcastle, Sunderland, Ipswich, Rotherham, Stoke and countless others who all live here and who will remain loyal to their clubs – also ’til they die probably. Yes, and there are still plenty of blue and yellow Wimbledon scarves attend Dons matches.
MK Dons will NEVER be our first club but we will go just because we have league football in our backyard; novelty factor and curiosity (and it’s cheap (sorry – inexpensive)).
To me, it was unfortunate that the Dons had to move into the Hockey Stadium rather than their own new stadium but, even though that is what happened, my guess is that this scenario will follow:
– the new stadium will sell out for the first game;
– all the immigrants will go;
– they’ll take their wives and kids;
– the Dons will be three-up at half time; and
– the kids especially will say, “Ths is good, Dad, can we come again?”
And football will take off in MK for good. It won’t go away, Matt.
Just as an aside, even given that the Premiership includes Craven Cottage and Fratton Park, I guess it would be generally agreed that the Vic was the worst ground in the Premiership – and now we’re going to spend £30m + and it would still have been the worst ground in the Premiership.
Have you seen the new stadium in MK? I’ve been on an inside tour and it’s out of this world. When I see that, it makes me very jealous about what might have been achieved while we would still rather have a titchy ground in the back-waters of west Watford. Take the binkers off; come to see the friendly; open your eyes to what is really happening outside your own little world of criticism. Like I said before, it won’t go away!
AFC? They’ll be alright.
And sorry to go on but it’s not been publicized very well (because it’s not the publicity that the media want to let out) but did you know that all Wimbledon trophies have been given back to Merton?
Just for the record, I will not be at the Dons friendly – I’ll be on holiday!

55. Matt Rowson - 07/06/2007

Sorry Paul, you’ve explained why it won’t go away. I wouldn’t dispute that. You haven’t explained why it’s right, acceptable, likeable, tolerable even. MK stole a football club, and a place in the football league. Who’s wearing the blinkers here?

56. Rupe - 07/06/2007

I find it incredible Matt that you accuse me of stupidity, yet you invent your own fact that ‘a significant proportion’ of Watford supporters are against this friendly.

How would you know this to be so? – has the club done a poll of its support or are you, as is most likely, basing its fact through a thread on a website known to be populated by the some of the most liberal type Watford supporters around namely this one.

Our last away league game v MK saw 2,000 Watford fans completely sell out the away end with hundreds of others scattered among the home fans – it was aside from promotion/relegation deciders the most popular League game in terms of desperation of Watford supporters to attend that I can remember, but hey Matt, lets all pretend that your coachload of liberal and worthy cronies who went to the AFC Wimbledon game instead constituted the significant proportion of Watford supporters so disgusted by MK Dons existence.

57. Matt Rowson - 07/06/2007

OK Rupert. “Significant” in that it was sufficient to provoke the cancellation of the last friendly.


58. Mark - 07/06/2007

I think the problem is that Matt and the anti- franchise group, who I sort of agree with, are football fundamentalists and nothing anyone says or does will convince them to embrace the MK project. On the other hand the majority of football fans are not to bothered about the whole issue as long as it does nor affect them or their team. They are the silent majority while the anti’s are a very vocal minority.

59. Paul - 07/06/2007

OK! Let’s try:
1. “What is right and acceptable….”
– Definition of franchise: “….authorisation to sell company’s goods etc in particular area” (Oxford Handy Dictionary)
a) Wimbledon did not belong to the fans, it belonged to the owners who had every right to do as they pleased with it;
b) the owners could not do anything with it to make it a going concern in its state at that time. Their choices were to liquidate it (after which it would not have existed at all) or sell it for as much as they could and hope someone could revive it. They sold it to Pete Winkelman.
c) they DID NOT give “authorisation (to Pete Winkelman) to sell the company’s goods in a particular area (MK)”. They sold the company.
d) If the Football League OWNED all 72 clubs and authorised the movement of Wimbledon to MK, then that would be franchising. MK Dons is not a franchise.
e) what happened was absolutely right in a business sense. The only way the Wimbledon fans could have had their own say was if THEY (not Pete Winkleman) bought the club and, if my understanding is correct, the fans had every opportunity to do so but couldn’t or really did not want to get it together.
f) What is RIGHT (to answer your question further), is that the fans did get together to found and organise their own football club and, in that respect, they deserve every encouragement and congratulations on a splendid job so far.
2. What is likeable……? To whom must it be likeable? Pete Winkleman and the MK board like it; 5000+ fans in MK like it (and you watch, there’ll be many more next season); those fans who still wear their old Wimbledon scarves like it; I guess even the fans of AFC like the fact that they have started something, that it’s increasingly successful and, especially, that it belongs to them. So let me turn the question around – who doesn’t like it? You and a few others, it seems.
3. What is tolerable…..? Nobody “stole” a football club. A dying business was bought by a new owner who put plans into place to resurrect it and make it successful. The owners of Arsenal put plans into place to move the football club to a new home to make it more successful. How many Arsenal fans with Highbury Stadium in their veins do not like the Emirates? A host of other clubs have and will do the same. Ask the fans of Leytonstone, Ilford, Walthamstow Avenue, Redbridge Forest and Dagenham football clubs if they would prefer their old clubs or Dagenham & Redbridge attaining league status for the first time – and ask fans of Torquay United who stole a place in the league.
Who stole a place in the football league? The football club moved to Milton Keynes as Wimbledon – the place in the league was not taken by another club. Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic changed its name to AFC Bournemouth – what’s wrong with that? Go through the history books and see how many clubs have changed their names.
Milton Keynes is the beneficiary of a mixture of bad management by the former owners and lack of forsight of the local authorities.
Does that help?

60. Rupe - 07/06/2007

Matt, what is your response to my comment about Watfords last league game at MK?

61. Matt Rowson - 07/06/2007

No Paul, all bollocks. And very boring, contorted bollocks at that.

Legally right? Fine. Or else they couldn’t have done it. Morally right? No. A corporate entity can do what the hell it likes, within the law. What defines a football club beyond its corporate entity is its community, its location and people. Those were discarded, MK Dons are a new club and as such should not have been parachuted into the league structure.

The group who you define as “liking it” aren’t a group of people I feel particuarly warmly to. Each to their own, natch, but some people read the Daily Mail and pull the wings off flies, too.

And as detailed, MK stole a place in the football league. We’re not talking about a club changing its name, or shifting a few miles up the road to facilitate a new stadium. We’re talking about shunting a club seventy miles away across London away from its original community. And if you can’t see the difference I suggest you take your head out of your arse.

62. Matt Rowson - 07/06/2007

Rupe… that a lot of people don’t feel the same way as I do. Big deal. That doesn’t make them right.

63. Stuart - 07/06/2007

Jesus, you guys are going round in circles.

64. Matt Rowson - 07/06/2007

🙂 🙂 🙂 Oh no we’re not! Anyway, about your courgette…

65. Stuart - 07/06/2007

Don’t mention the courgette, just don’t!

66. Sequel - 07/06/2007

I’ve just read all 65 entries in this link, without a break. Can I have my half hour back, please?
Ps: I won’t be going to the Franchise game!

67. Matt Rowson - 07/06/2007

Good work, Sequel. Was there nothing on the telly?

68. hornetboy84 - 08/06/2007

Paul –

The point is simple. It would become unacceptable and an issue to Watford fans if it happened to us. Thats why we should care about another club.

A precedent should not have been allowed.

The same with Leeds/West Ham – its disgraceful. I hope the league find a way to get their own back and dock Leeds 10 points for the pitch invasion and West Ham 10 points for being smug east end C**ts.

Of course the club has to fulfil competitive fixtures. Individuals like MAtt can make their choice. But given the issue 2 years ago then the club are naive in this decision. Unless of course its partof a deal to sign a hot forward? (conspiracy?)

69. Himji - 08/06/2007

Forget Watford vs Manky dons.

Watford Vs Wealdstone is the big match but being a Wealdstone resident, I don’t know who to support!! 😦

70. adam J - 08/06/2007

I think this must be a BHaPPY record. this is the 70th, can be break three figures, come on lads! (and ladies)

71. Rupe - 08/06/2007

Matt, what happens if in a couple of years, we are playing MK Dons away last game of the season and we need to win to get promoted – will you be in the supporters bar at Dog and Duck FC v AFC Wimbledon instead?

72. Stuart - 08/06/2007

and who says we need BSaD back?! BHaPPY is far more controversial!

73. Matt Rowson - 09/06/2007

I wouldn’t be at Franchise Rupe.

74. Matt Rowson - 12/06/2007

WIth apologies to those folk who’ve recently posted contributions and had them culled, I’m calling time on this conversation. Perhaps naively, I never intended to rehash the MK debate, over which entrenched positions were adopted some time ago.

Fascinating as running around in circles is, and particularly valued and informed as the pro-MK contribution has been, it’s probably best to move on to something else… which I will do as soon as I get a chance to write it…

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