[SW19 : I’m led to believe that the whole Franchise shit started in the mid 90s under Hammam. In hindsight, we should have seen the signs from this day alone. But then, life is wonderful in hindsight isn’t it?]
Yeah, I’m up early, and this is why. Remember I mentioned about Milton Keynes a little while ago? Well check this out from the Substandard:
“Wimbledon’s owners are planning to move the club to a new Â£50 million super-stadium in Milton Keynes. Negotiations to become involved in a project to build a 45,000-seat ground, hotel and offices on a 55-acre site in the town have already reached an advanced stage “
Right, I’ll give you two minutes to fall off your chair, curse and swear a lot and then I’ll continue.
Done that? Good. There is a quote from BRG in there, and it’s interesting reading:
“Milton Keynes has a lot to offer and looks like the most realistic option. We have looked for alternatives in the south London area but it has been hard to come up with any that are viable. You name a place and we have probably looked there. That leaves us trying to make the best of Selhurst Park or moving and I don’t think the future of the club lies in being a tenant. It is very limited.
But there is still homework to be done on Milton Keynes and it is not a done deal. We have a responsibility to our loyal supporter base but they have to be rational. We will sit down with them and the players to see what is best for all of us.”
Right, here goes : firstly, this is probably the biggest kick in the teeth since Dublin. A severe kick in the teeth. It makes all the hard work in trying to get a new ground totally unworthwhile. It’s like being gobbed on yet again and you seriously question why you should keep continuing to support WFC.
Second thing, and this is a much more rational approach, read between the lines of BRG’s statement. There is a major difference between what his comments over such a move and Hammam’s approach. I think reading the last sentence could be a major factor : it’s as though he’s willing to “negotiate” if that’s a good word to use. This is very important : if he gets the message that the fans won’t tolerate MK any more than Dublin very early (and forcefully), chances are he will back down. If the players object as well, then the deal is as good as dead. Remember, if they’re training in SW London and then have to go up to MK afterwards, doubt if they’d be particularly happy with it.
Thirdly, and this is the most important thing of all, the Football League. The ESS again :
“But there could still be problems with the officials at the Football League, who would have to agree any move or name change, which may be proposed by the club at a later date. They have traditionally been against the idea of clubs relocating away from their supporter heartlands and Wimbledon would have to make an exceptional case for moving lock, stock and barrel. “
Like the FAI, these are the main people to have on your side. If somebody knows how to contact them, let me know and I shall put up contacts. Their form, from “our” point of view, is good. They effectively forced Brighton away from Gillingham into Withdean, and if “we” put enough pressure on, who knows? I doubt if Luton Town will be happy with it either….
So, what of the immediate future? Well, firstly, R&G’s popularity has surely plummetted. If he’s expecting people to be rational about this, he’ll have a nasty shock. But the fact that there will be dialog between the fans and the club is promising. What this will do for supporter morale is anyone’s guess : part of me thinks that there will be massive protests on a Dublin scale. Part of me thinks that this could be the last straw for many people and will simply abandon the club. In all likelyhood, both scenarios will happen. The club shop will find takings will slump, and I shudder to think about PGPF’s future. Nobody will buy season tickets next year unless it’s definitely not going to happen, I certainly won’t, and if there is a 2 year wait for a stadium to be built the club could lose severe money. Not to mention all the negative publicity.
There are two “good” things to come out of this : firstly, it’s refocused the move back to Merton, albeit in a rather underhand and unpleasant way. And secondly, this surely must galvanise Merton Council into doing something. Anything. Again, a load of letters will buck ideas up…
If you haven’t already, join WISA. Form your own campaigns, annoy the club – hell, really get on the club’s nerves. Badger all the people I’ve previously mentioned. Get yourself on phone-ins, write to the papers, whatever. We’ve still got time, and we have more power than people will think
The call to arms is nigh. More later.
UPDATE 1: No prizes for guessing the topic today. We’ve since had an official response from the club, and here’s what they say:
“In response to media speculation surrounding the relocation of Wimbledon Football Club, it is a well documented fact that the Club has for sometime been actively seeking an appropriate location to develop a new stadium. In this regard, the club are evaluating various opportunities and that in the event any of those opportunities should appear to be appropriate for the Club, then a statement will be made by the Club at the relevant time. “
Not very helpful, is it? It’s neither confirming nor denying anything, and some would say a bit ominous. With this in mind, check out what Football365 wrote today:
“it is understood that the proposal has not yet been discussed at board level by the club and it is likely that many supporters will be opposed to it”
You can say that again. The fact that this hasn’t even been discussed at boardroom level is a strange one, and it puts BRG’s comments in a new light. Was he misquoted? Did he say something totally innocent and had it straight out of context? Read on….
“Although it seems that there are those at the Milton Keynes end who want it to go ahead, it remains to be seen whether the proposal will receive boardroom support at Wimbledon. And Gjelsten himself was later said by one source at Wimbledon to not yet be completely forthright in his support of the plan. There are also still many other hurdles for the Dons to cross before any such proposal could become a reality. “
Hmmm, now that’s interesting. This may explain why the official WFC statement was so vague – it’s because the board of directors are having their own civil war and can’t actually say one way or another what is going to happen. If BRG himself isn’t totally in favour of the move, who is? KIR? CK? Or dare I say, some of the “older” directors? Remember, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about MK, it’s been going since before KIR even knew where Wimbledon was.
Some other stories are claiming that both Bluewater and Gatwick are still there, some are even suggesting that MK is merely a smokescreen for Gatwick (which I think would be the least unpopular move), after all, CK’s comments earlier this season are pointing to it.
All this of course isn’t going to die down anytime soon. Prominent WISA members will be on various radio stations, I can guess the phone-ins will be flooded. We’ve got a SP game this Saturday, I’m sure that there will be some sort of protest. I can’t say for myself whether or not boycotting games is counter-productive or not, but I’ve no doubt the protests will be the most high-profile since Dublin.
Final update tonight
UPDATE 2: Right, final update for tonight and indeed until Wednesday. I’m going off to New York City tomorrow for a bit of personal business, so there’s no way I’ll be updating till then. Will still be available via the SW19 guestbook but any late breaking stuff, just go elsewhere 🙂
Anyway, MK Dons. The plot thickens. And none more so from SW19 reader Robert Wilder, who got hold of WFC today. In fact he got hold of David Barnard of all people. And guess what? The first he knew about MK was in the Substandard as well. Transpires that the two main men in all this – BRG and CK – are abroad. Did somebody mention conspiracy? Or stitch up?
Funny how the story ran when the two main people at WFC were out of the country. Somebody doing the dirty, only I can’t tell who. Depending on who you side with in these instances, it’s either BRG conveniently being absent when the shit hits the fan, or its somebody waiting for BRG to be abroad when things go pear shaped. Anyway, DB won’t deny they’ve been approached – which can and does mean anything – but he HAS said that nothing has been signed. Again, perhaps my theory that BRG was maybe misquoted still holds water. I’ve heard nothing else to suggest that he actually came out and said it apart from what you’ve read in newspapers. So who knows?
Some other snippets I’ve heard/read from various people (taken without permission – hope you don’t object) :
-one of the MK MPs, when not accepting backhanders from Lord Sainsbury, and who was supposed to have met with “representatives” of WFC, er, hasn’t. I mean meeting with WFC reps, not accepting bribes. Turns out that she is in with this consortium at MK (told you she accepts bribes) and naturally is very keen on it. I read the website for the Milton Keynes Citizen (http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk if you must know), and they’re hinting at Gatwick as a “rival” as well. Seems more and more likely that the main cheerleaders for MK are from MK themselves. Fuck me, what a shit life they must lead up there.
– Rumour has it that this whole shebang may be from KIR. But this is because Aker RGI are doing so badly that he may need to sell a few other entities to get some money back. Push the share price up, apparently. This maybe explains why BRG wasn’t overly enthusiastic about MK (see above) : maybe KIR is saying to him “Bjorn, I need dough. Can you work this for me?”, and as BRG whenever I’ve heard him speak or met him in the flesh has always seemed a decent bloke with a brain to match. Remember that KIR bought the 80% of WFC in the first place because BRG was a bit strapped for cash and couldn’t buy it at the time.
– Reg Davis was on C17 as usual. And apparently he made a right prick of himself. Well, I didn’t see the interview but those who did reckon that he wasn’t inspiring confidence about anything. As usual. Anyone who did see it, let me know.
– And last snippet : Crapital Old was full of Wombles tonight. So was Tony Gale, giving it the usual footballers non-committal bollocks. He did condemn R&G for “not putting up the money to let WFC keep the best players”. What, you consider losing Carl Cort and Ben Thatcher as bad points?
See you Wednesday.