There is, as they say, a reason for everything. There is a reason why trees are shaped in the way they are. There is a reason why ITV makes crap sitcoms. There is a reason why boxes that you plug into power sockets to create new phone jacks are bloody impossible to find in the UK. And there is a very good reason why I’m sitting here with a smirk that would only be surpassed by the one I’ll have if Christina Aguilera told me she was feeling thirsty and needed something to lubricate her throat.
When Franchise announced that they were going to try MK, I was pissed off beyond belief. When they got turned down, I laughed. When they tried again and again, I got angrier and angrier. Can’t describe how I felt on 28/5/02, but AFCW has calmed that. When I heard that they were considering changing the name of Bletchley to Wimbledon Park I spat blood (almost literally). And at 9.30pm on Tuesday 6th April, 2004, when I heard they went down, I gave one hell of a laugh out. You see, I first started supporting Wimbledon when they were in the old third division. 21 years later, they’re still there, and this time, when I see them mentioned on Grandstand, I don’t think that it’s the name of the club whose ground I pass on the way to Saturday shopping at the Arndale.
I actually went to the first MK game (I didn’t go in), report here, and the fact that only 2k Frenzies turned up to see their demise surprises me less than probably anyone else. It’s clear that it was a property deal. Koppout lied. Wankelmann lied. The FA were aiders and abbetters, of that I have no doubt. The evil little cartel in this, KIR, BRG, Milton Keynes Council, they all lied. But where did it get them? Wankelmann now has a dead club in his grubby mitts. Koppout lost everything, his reputation, his marriage, probably quite a bit of money, and must still live in fear the rest of his life. KIR/BRG lost a great deal themselves, didn’t get their fingers in the pie quite as much and they too suffered their reputation. The FA have zero respect from anyone anyway, and I hope Mr Eriksson does the dirty on them.
And MK Council? Unfortunately, dealing with councillors is like dropping rat poison. It kills the fuckers but their droppings still give you disease. They have the mentality of a mass murderer without the high moral standing or sense of fair play. And I bet that MK Council have a recycling policy for all the brown envelopes that have passed through them in recent months.
I shouldn’t really be vicious, and I’m trying my hardest not to be, but short of dying in a car crash, this is exactly what Franchise deserve. Ignore the liberal gushings from the BBC about how sad it is that Franchise have gone down, forget the pseudo mortification, the faux indignation, the out and out pus-filled bullshit. Those who know are dancing on the grave of Franchise’s first division career. The truth is, only we care. And not for the “proper” reasons either.
What this whole episode has proven is how unlikely franchising is to happen again. While I will forever be bitter that it was us who had to go through hell (although we came out of it better than ever), I know that moving a club in this country equals death. I wonder how many plans to relocate clubs will remain in boardrooms all over the country? All of them. Remember that Tranmere Rovers woman who talked about it a little too much? She denied it at every turn, of course, which is a surefire way of saying that she had every intention of doing it. Football fans may not be the most politicised of people (and this subject is the basis of the next SW19 article, grab your tin hats for that one), but try and take a club away from them and your professional life is finished.
Of course, the arguments for MK was that it was a business thing, that it was for the best etc etc. But even if we took it at a business level, it’s even more bloody obvious that Franchise would always end up in division 2. Firstly, a club with a massive amount of debt isn’t going to suddenly lose all that debt if they move. Secondly, nobody ever polled anyone in MK, and we now know what they really think of pro football. Not that we were in any doubt anyway
But the underyling reason is that the business of football is unique. All businesses have a culture that guarantees its success or failure. You don’t move football clubs like you would a building company. When people talk about tradition, community etc, it’s there because it really is part of the fabric of football. Man U could have moved from OT eons ago, but didn’t. Why have Arsenal spent god knows on Ashburton, rather than move out 10 miles away from Highbury?
In naked capitalist terms, the customers of a football business are the fans. They’re the ones who the advertisers target. They’re the ones with the money. You don’t think Sky aim their money so nobody can watch it do you? Franchise alienated their customers and are now in the shit. If Franchise had done what they did in any other business, they would have been bust by now – it’s only the stagnant forces of football that keeps them going. In many ways, relegation was the least worst thing to happen to them.
Perhaps the most glorious irony is yet to come. I still can’t help thinking that despite all the efforts of various parties, the breaking of rules, the defiling of protocol, you name it, that this Wankeldome won’t be built. Asda have what they want now, namely planning permission for their big superstore (which had they waited a couple of years longer, they would have probably got anyway). I have maintained for a long time, and to anyone who listens, that Asda will be wanting that nice space for the stadium for themselves. I’m sure that they would really love to close their store on a Saturday afternoon, and lose out to other superstores in the area, just so that a couple of hundred retards can watch a bunch of kids, has-beens and never-weres lose to Hartlepool in a 30k white elephant.
As AFCW are going up, and the Franchise are going down – please, no singing – it’s impossible not to feel smug. This after all is part-payback. If going bust is not an option, then instead we’ll be counting the days, and doing the calculations, of how long it’ll be before we get to play them. Celtic-Rangers will be like RP Vile versus Walton Casuals.
And who knows, perhaps when reality hits in, they could try and relocate the club again? There’s a rather big area in a certain part of South West London crying out for a league team….