Friday, 30 December 2011

Not just a business

One of the 'defences' (I'm being generous here) that Franchise customers trot out for the move, and therefore one of their justifications for financially supporting it, is that football these days is 'just a business' and businesses relocate between towns all the time, so why should football businesses be any different? Amongst other Franchise customers I'm sure this 'opinion' is accepted on a nod, but the reality is that it is merely a platitude with no meaning or relevance to the situation. Football clubs have been businesses right from the start, that's not something that came along with the Premier League. And football clubs have never been JUST a business.

Let's take a look at a piece from earlier this year by Malcolm Gladwell for Grantland, and in which he deals largely with the NBA lockout, but makes excellent points about the nature of a professional sports business:

Gladwell very eloquently shoots down the ridiculous notion that professional sports businesses are like other businesses - they aren't, as he points out, "Their customers are obsessively loyal and emotionally engaged in their fortunes to the point that — were the business in question, say, discount retailing or lawn products — it would be considered psychologically unhealthy."

Gladwell's conclusion relates to the NBA owners lockout, but it parallels what Koppel argued back in 2002 and what some Franchise customers would still have us believe - that everything can be justified because it's 'just a business'. As Gladwell puts it, "But of course an owner is only losing money if he values the psychic benefits of owning an NBA franchise at zero — and if you value psychic benefits at zero, then you shouldn't own an NBA franchise in the first place. You should sell your "business" — at what is sure to be a healthy premium — to someone who actually likes basketball." In Franchise FC's case, the Norwegians sold the team (at a massive loss in their case) to a property dealer who needed a facilitator to build a supermarket! Does Winkelman like football enough to carry on pouring millions into Franchise once his stadium is completed? Time will tell - it has taken Winkelman more than 10 years already and he still hasn't finished what he started when he approached football clubs in the late 1990s with his supermarket and stadium property scheme. A lot of supermarket and bank money has gone into propping up his franchised football team, but the jury's still out on whether Winkelman really values a football club for what it really is, rather than just as a facilitator for making him rich personally through the property scheme.

By now, of course, some Franchise customers are starting to realise the importance of a football club to its fans and community. It's supremely ironic when you encounter a customer waxing lyrical about football this way:

Now, if only he wasn't a customer of a franchise that trampled over the wishes of its thousands of fans, just so another business could build a supermarket. Franchise customers are always going to find it impossible to square this particular circle - they simply can't be the football fans they desire to be while condoning what was done to Wimbledon's football fans. And they do condone it every time they put cash in Winkelman's pocket and every time they watch a team masquerading as the 'Dons' while in fact representing Milton Keynes. In the words of Billy Bragg, 'Which side are you on boys?', because you can't be on both. They're either football fans or they're customers of a franchise. They can make their choice, but they should be under no illusions as to what they are choosing.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Terry Burton remembers

As was noted in a recent comment, ex-Wimbledon manager Terry Burton, outrageously sacked by Charles Koppel (see and despite achieving a 9th place finish in the second division in the 2001-2 season (while Koppel was selling quality players to promotion rivals), has recently been interviewed in his capacity as a West Brom coach and spoke about events in 2002. Here's the article:

It largely speaks for itself and it's a message that Franchise customers would do well to heed when they try peddling their lies about the move - people like Terry Burton were there and know what went on, they know the lies that were told and the horrendous campaign the owners waged against the fans to make their supermarket property deal happen. Read Burton's words and be in no doubt he knew and knows the truth of things:

“I went along to offer support. I’d been sacked by the previous Wimbledon – we’d finished eighth or ninth in the Championship the previous year, they were on the verge of moving and it was an awful year. I despaired for the supporters.
“It was like you saying to your wife ‘I’m going to leave you at the end of the season and run off with the woman next door... but will you stay here cook my food, do my washing for me.’
“The fans came to the matches, they would turn their back on the game, they would chant at the chairman to go. I got to know the song well and was singing it myself by the end!
“How can you take a club away from it’s people?
“I have nothing against Milton Keynes or the people who are there now. It could have gone to, say, Carlisle, it still wouldn’t have made it right. It’s wrong for those fans.
“The FA were wrong, as were the people who owned Wimbledon at the time."

Burton may not hold a grudge against Winkelman, but he's still working in football and doesn't need to go antagonising potential employers. His words are clear though. Franchise customers would do well to heed them.

And since it's nearly Christmas, a message for my biggest fan - Yur hoachin joaby and ye've naw scooby.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Rules, what rules?

Sometimes you come across publications from some time back, which aren't new, but that starkly remind you of just how outrageous the franchising of Wimbledon FC was. Check out this story from 2005 in a Milton Keynes paper:

Read what Winkelman says about the football authorities blocking the move to MK:
"It is a far cry from February 2000 when a host of teams were in the frame to move here but seemingly implacable football authorities blocked any move. "But we changed the rules," said Pete."
He changed the rules. That means he knew there were rules to be changed. It's an open admission of the fact that he knew the football autorities objected to the move and considered it against their rules, but he was part of ploughing ahead and changing the rules - he's proud of getting around those rules.
Little snippets like this aren't a big deal, just confirmation of what reasonable and logical people know about what Winkelman knowingly did, and yet you can still find Franchise customers who think he is blameless. The man who proudly proclaims he changed the rules is supposed to be blameless. It would be funny if the whole thing weren't so tragic.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Short memories

There's a constant theme with Franchise customers that some of them are either extraordinarily forgetful or horribly ignorant of the facts. I've dealt before with the nonsense about Wimbledon fans abandoning the club too early, by pointing out that Franchise FC was intended to start the 2002-3 season in Milton Keynes. Perhaps Franchise customers weren't reading their own local papers when they printed stories like these?...

That's September 2002, with Koppel and Winkelman still trying to get the club in MK before the end of the year. Even that reflects slippage from Koppel's statements up until the Commission in May 2002 that the team would play in MK for the whole 2002-3 season, but it's stark confirmation that Wimbledon fans acted correctly and in a timely fashion to ensure they had a Wimbledon club to watch for the 2002-3 season. Franchise customers may like to indulge in trying to re-write history, but fortunately it's much harder for them to get away with it in the internet age, where their own local paper puts the lie to their nonsense.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Inconvenient facts

I've previously linked to a document that exposed the lies Charles Koppel told about the franchising of Wimbledon FC, but the website this was originally housed at no longer exists, so this blog post serves to repeat the original post and make sure this information is readily available for others. Bear in mind the original post was made some years ago, but it is all the more powerful in its damning assessment for that reason. What it demonstrates perfectly is the level of lies and subterfuge that Koppel and the others involved in franchising a Football League team, were prepared to go to:

Over recent months it has become clear to Wimbledon fans that WFC Ltd Chairman Charles Koppel has no interest in any outcome other than his plan to kill WFC and move the franchise to Milton Keynes.

Mr Koppel has made a number of statements concerning this issue, the most persistent and misleading of which we have reproduced below. Each of them is contradicted by a quote from sources ranging from himself, to his own co-directors to official Merton Council Spokesmen.


• The majority shareholder in Wimbledon Football Club Limited is Kjell Inge Roekke, who has a fortune totalling over 0 million (more than £480 million) (Source, Forbes Rich List). Sole shareholder in Aker RGI, in November he acquired the international engineering and construction group, Kvaerner. Greenpeace estimate that he fishes 20% of the world's catch - including more than 30% of the US market (Source,

• To date, WISA has produced a professional and viable plan for a stadium at Plough Lane (Further information from WISA). The club have produced nothing (No more information from WFC Ltd).

• In December 2001, ICM Research Ltd. carried out an opinion poll of in Merton and South-West London. The results showed that 83% of residents in the borough wanted a return to Plough Lane for Wimbledon. Some 10% of Merton residents asked would attend matches at Plough Lane regularly. That's around 18,000 of the total population of Merton. (Full results on

Charles Koppel VS The Truth

Charles Koppel says...

"It's perceived that we are trying to move the club to Milton Keynes because we do not want a local solution, but that is not true" (Charles Koppel, WFC press briefing, 03/01/02)

The Truth is...

"We want Wimbledon Football Club to play in Milton Keynes" (Charles Koppel, Documentary, TV2, Norway; URL:

--------------------------------------------------------- -----------------------

Charles Koppel says...

"We cannot afford the land. I think that the cost of it would be £20 million the cost of acquiring the land would [be] £15 [million] so it would cost us £35 million pounds which the club doesn't have." (Charles Koppel at a Meeting of the Haydon's Bridge Residents' Association. 07/01/02)

The Truth is...

'Gjelsten insists that if land can be found for a new stadium, the owners will pay for it. "It will cost anything from £30m to £60m. Obviously it will be funded partly by myself and Kjell [Inge Rokke]. We might look for partners in the club, but they have to show some passion for the sport and show the same long-term focus as us. We are trying to rebuild the club in its local community."' (Bjorn Gjelsten, WFC Ltd's second largest shareholder, Four-Four- Two Magazine, Jan 2001)


Charles Koppel says...

" We do not believe that Plough Lane is deliverable within the planning frameworks" (Charles Koppel at a Meeting of the Haydon's Bridge Residents' Association. 07/01/02)

The Truth is...

"The site is historically a stadium. Merton Council would not contest the building of a new stadium on the site". (Gene Saunders, Press Spokesman for Merton Council, 16/12/01)


Charles Koppel says...

"In order to achieve that aim [a new stadium at Plough Lane] the travellers would need to be relocated. Now obviously that's not an easy task." (Charles Koppel, WFC press briefing, 03/01/02)

The Truth is...

"This is not a problem. The council own some land nearby and by swinging the travellers site around we can accommodate it" (Gene Saunders, Press Spokesman for Merton Council, 16/12/01)

----------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------

Charles Koppel says...

"And then there's the electricity pylon, which would be very expensive to move, if it can even be done." (Charles Koppel, meeting with Merton Council and WISA 13/12/01)

The Truth is...

"If there's a will, that pylon can be moved. It's about a £500,000 will, but in terms of a new stadium that's not an awful lot of money" (Gene Saunders, Press Spokesman for Merton Council, 16/12/01)


Charles Koppel says...

"The first time Andrew Judge ever had a conversation with Safeways was on the 20th December" (Charles Koppel at a Meeting of the Haydon's Bridge Residents' Association. 07/01/02)

The Truth is...

"We have already contacted Safeway seeking urgent discussions" (Andrew Judge, writing in 'Yellow and Blue, the Wimbledon supporter's matchday programme, 16/12/01)


Charles Koppel says...

"I think we'll have a lot who want to be part of it [the move to Milton Keynes]. I accept we'll have some who won't. They're the ones who'd prefer we went back to Plough Lane and played Third division football. They're not true supporters". (Charles Koppel interviewed in the Guardian 08/09/01)

The Truth is...

The only pro-Milton Keynes candidate who stood for election to the Official Wimbledon Fan's Forum polled a total of 30 votes. (Source,; WISA has a current membership of nearly 1,500 (Source, WISA membership)


Charles Koppel says...

"The mere thought of coming back frightens the living daylights out of them" [talking about WFC staff] (Charles Koppel at a Meeting of the Haydon's Bridge Residents' Association. 07/01/02)

The Truth is...

"Going home to Wimbledon would be great for everyone" (Former Wimbledon midfielder, Kevin Cooper)


Cha rles Koppel says...

"Andrew Judge in his heart of hearts knows that Wimbledon Football Club can never come back to Merton". (Charles Koppel at a Meeting of the Haydon's Bridge Residents' Association. 07/01/02)

The Truth is...

"We believe a stadium can be built on the site [Plough Lane]". (Andrew Judge, Leader of Merton Council, writing in 'Yellow and Blue, the Wimbledon supporter's matchday programme, 16/12/01)


Charles Koppel says...

"Football supporters are not necessarily the kind of people you want sitting on your doorstep" (Charles Koppel at a Meeting of the Haydon's Bridge Residents' Association. 07/01/02)

The Truth is...

Wimbledon supporters are the fourth best behaved in the country (Source, National Criminal Intelligence Service - Statistics on football related arrests, 2000/2001 figures,


Charles Koppel says...

"We realise that no agreement could ever be reached without consulting our supporters first" (Charles Koppel, April 2001)

The Truth is...

No consultation was made with Wimbledon fans prior to the Milton Keynes Announcement. Mr Koppel failed to turn up for a meeting (organised at the supporter's expense, but at Mr Koppel's request) in July which was intented to clarify the ground situation.

----------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------

Charles Koppel says...

"All discussions of Milton Keynes are pie in the sky - we are a London club and that is where we will be going." (Charles Koppel, April 2001)

The Truth is...

"Wimbledon has signed an agreement to move to a new home ground in Milton Keynes." (Charles Koppel, August 2001)

If the original author of the document wants to contact me via the blog I will be delighted to credit them fully for this always informative collection of facts, none of which do the MKSA see fit to include in their laughably titled 'Facts of the move', which, as a result of this and many other omissions, makes them a ludicrous misrepresentation of the truth.

Edit to add: Every fact in the original document is correct and verifiable. MK's own local paper can even be used to fact-check content! Which makes it amazing the depths of denial and delusion some Franchise customers will go to in trying to avoid the truth. They should pick up their own paper once in a while! ;)

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wailing and gnashing of teeth

Digressing from the usual thrust of things... It's fascinating to watch the online responses to this blog elsewhere. It ranges from pathetic attempts to insult and goad to frustrated moans about perceived omissions or injustices. I confess it amuses me greatly to see Franchise customers whining about things like that, bearing in mind one of the main reasons I was motivated to start this blog in the first place - the collection of lies by omission that Franchise websites publish, claiming they represent the 'facts of the move'. What they actually represent is a deliberately biased presentation of selective facts, which completely fail to tell the whole story. The agenda behind them is clear, to show Winkelman and others involved with Franchise FC in the best light possible. If it were a genuine study of all the facts available, then the glaring omissions would not be there, but they are. And of course there is no way in which I or anyone else can have this piece of blatant propaganda modified to include salient facts - it's not a wiki.

So, when I see Franchise customers wailing and moaning about what gets posted here - none of which have they been able to find any inaccuracies with - then the irony of it tickles me greatly. If they hadn't been so keen to publish what amounts to a whitewash job on Winkelman, then they might not now be having to complain about this blog. Funny eh?

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Mexican has his say

This is the most eloquent and honest assessment you'll ever get from an ex-player about the franchise situation (NB this is a link to an mp3 download, the interview with Sanchez is at 35mins in):

It took even Lawrie Sanchez a while to come to terms with the situation and resolve how he felt about things, so it's hardly surprising that other players (particularly some from the Selhurst Park era) are still conflicted about matters. However, Sanchez has grasped the essentials well and there's no doubting his admiration for and affinity with AFC Wimbledon. He openly admits that he's in a difficult position - his living still comes from football and he's understandably reluctant to anger anyone else within the game - so one doesn't expect him to take a fans viewpoint, but he's unequivocal in stating that the fans ARE the football club. That's a message that should get through to everyone, Franchise customers excepted.

Only when Franchise customers can, en masse, bring themselves to recognise and agree with what Sanchez and most others within the game have come to terms with, will they be able to get over their absurd delusion that Winkelman 'saved' Wimbledon FC or that they are anything but a new club that should stop associating itself with a suburb of south London that they dishonour by doing so.

NB For those Franchise customers who appear to be either hard of hearing or delusional, Sanchez does not recognise Franchise as the 'legal continuation' of Wimbledon FC - mainly because it isn't! It's quite extraordinary that some Franchise customers still choose to either read or hear what they want to, rather than what is actually written or said. Listen to Sanchez again, he talks about a team, not a club or a 'legal continuation' going to MK. The difference may be lost on some Franchise customers, but it doesn't seem to be lost on Sanchez, who, I repeat, clearly states that the fans ARE the club.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Balance in the media

Some Franchise customers have been very fond in the last couple of years of moaning about the 'lack of balance' in media coverage of the whole Franchise FC issue. As I've pointed out before, this is baseless in the first place because the basic truth is that the vast majority of football people think the creation of Franchise FC was wrong, so why would they change that opinion just because time has passed? Just because the facts make Franchise FC, Winkelman and Franchise customers look bad, doesn't make them any less true when repeated. There hasn't been a lack of balance - Franchise customers just don't like the truth about 'their' club and what was done to create it.

However, I do think there is evidence of some media bias over the whole matter - and it has been in favour of Franchise, not against it. What I'm referring to is the near complete absence of analysis or publicity on the effect of parachuting a franchised Football League team into Milton Keynes on the other clubs in the area, both FL and non-League. We've seen plenty of sycophantic coverage about Franchise's academy and community involvement, but where have been the stories about taking talented youngsters away from other local sides or depleting the fanbase from other local clubs? Well, finally, after 9 long years, someone has had the nerve to pipe up...

This weekend just gone by, Franchise saw fit to have an 'Aylesbury Day', seeking to attract customers from Aylesbury, which is as far away from MK as Northampton, Luton and Bedford are. Unlike the first two of those towns it doesn't have a Football League side. Customers were offered a £5 bus ticket return to the game with Wycombe, with pick-up points around Aylesbury. This did not go down well with the local non-League sides, as you can imagine!

One of the Franchise forums reported the response of the chairmen of Aylesbury's two biggest teams:

The Bucks Herald report (not available directly online at time of posting - follow-up now available here: includes this: "Aylesbury FC chairman Danny Martone said "It's all about the big boys bullying the small boys, It's sad and disappointing because we've got a lot of good contacts with MK Dons and then they go and do something like this. We're going to suffer and Aylesbury United are going to suffer. We played them in a pre-season friendly a couple of seasons ago and are trying to arrange one for next year. I've spoken to Pete Winkelman (MK Dons chairman) and he said they've got to make money. I can only hope that the people of the town see this for what it is....a gimmick"."

 If Franchise customers want balance in the media, then it's about time we saw a lot more of this sort of coverage on the effect a franchised League place is having on other clubs. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence of the loss of customers from other local clubs like Northampton and Luton - and of course the local non-League clubs in the MK area, which had small local support before Franchise arrived, have also been affected. What chance does any club in MK, except Franchise FC, have of advancement now? As near none as makes no difference.

The fact that Franchise is trying this kind of aggressive marketing into neighbouring towns and into the catchment areas of other clubs, tells you all you need to know about the lies that were told about the 250,000 in MK supposedly in a frenzy for Franchise FC to arrive. The complete lie about being the largest area in Europe without a professional football team is even more starkly revealed when they start deliberately encroaching on other clubs catchment areas. The reality is that to stand a chance of survival, they're having to look far outside MK for customers and they're now trying to poach the fans of other clubs.

And what do some Franchise customers make of it all? I'll leave you with a quote from the thread linked to above:

"Franchise strikes again, don't bother stealing the clubs, steal the fans instead, love it. Chairboys must be leaking fans to us at a heck of a rate"

Nice, eh? So, next time you see a Franchise customer bleating about media coverage or claiming Franchise is good for football in the area, make sure they know that is very far from the truth.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Not forgotten, not forgiven

If you read the spin and PR that emanates from a handful of internet warriors round Franchise way, you'd be forgiven for thinking that all was sweetness and light in the world of the Franchise customer and that Franchise FC was winning fans over by the coachload. It's a mirage though, magicked up to make themselves feel better about themselves and their decision to be customers of a franchised football club instead of fans of a real football club.

Today, Franchise play Wycombe. Many of the Franchise customers, as always, are desperate to whip up a football frenzy and have a rivalry with anyone, including the other League team in Bucks. Idiotically some of them even think we are rivals, despite the fact we're 60 miles away and have never played them! (Long may that remain the case.) So desperate are they for a real rivalry, that they've been visiting a Wycombe forum and trying to stir things up. Well, they certainly managed to do that, but all it demonstrates is that far from forgetting and forgiving what happened in 2002, plenty of football fans remember it all too well and won't be 'moving on' any time soon.

Here's a link to the forum and some choice quotes from it to follow:

"Good luck to the Chairboys tomorrow.Iwont be going to Asdas quarter filled shed as i begrudge giving money to a joke football club.Come on you blues."

"I'll tell you what denigrates the reputation of the club, affording them any sort of recognition as a legitimate football club. Milton Keynes quite frankly deserves all it gets, they could quite easily have supported a non-league team up through the pyramid - even Winkieman could have taken over MK City and funded their rise up the leagues if he wanted to. It speaks volumes for their consumerist, short-termist, I'm alright Jack sod the rest of you mindset that they could not be bothered to take the time-honoured route into the league. It's your prerogative to look forward to visiting their sordid hypermarket-enabling griefhole, though there' no need to go to lengths to denigrate those with principles who cannot countenance ever visiting that monument to probably the vilest chapter of Football League history."

"As a Milton Keynes residant of more than thirty years standing I am very proud of my town and many of its fine achievements. However the existence of MK Dons is a nasty smear on an otherwise fine place. I cannot blame the many kids and teenagers who support the Dons as they know no better but I am ashamed at the many adults who have chosen to ignore the sordid establishment of their Local team and laugh off any criticism. The sad thing is that within a generation there will be no one who is interested in the history of MK Dons."

"we shouldn't "hate" MK Dons. well, not in the traditional football sense of the word (#we hate col u and we hate col u# etc). that would give them meaning and identity, neither of which they deserve. we should not treat them in any way as we would a legitimate football club, be it pre-match discussions on here and yes, watching one of their games. going to a game involving MK Dons allows them to believe they are a proper, legitimate club. They are not"

It hasn't been forgotten or forgiven, no matter what any Franchise customer may hope to believe. 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Naming the Asda:bowl

There have been a couple of interesting stories in the last couple of weeks in which Franchise's Sales and Marketing Director, Andrew Cullen, has been quoted, and in which he's used some very odd phrasing about how money goes to Franchise FC. Most recent was a story about selling the naming rights to Winkelman's stadium:

Cullen is quoted as saying,  "It’s no secret that the club would be seeking a naming rights deal, especially as revenue generated from such a partnership would enhance the competitiveness of MK Dons Football Club." Now that's odd for two reasons - 1) The football club doesn't own the stadium and therefore it's not the club that has the naming rights, and 2) What is this odd phrase "enhance the competitiveness"? If he means 'will get money from', then why doesn't he say that? How else is changing the name of the stadium supposed to 'enhance the competitiveness' of the football team that plays in it? Is calling it the Superpoopermarket Winkybowl, or whatever sponsor they get for it, supposed to fire the players with enthusiasm or make the crowd louder? Clearly not, so why the odd choice of words from Cullen?

I think the answer is obvious when you consider point 1) above. The football club doesn't own the stadium, its parent company InterMK does. Certainly InterMK could direct any monies received from naming rights to the football club, but for accounting purposes that money will have to go to InterMK. Indeed, it's not unreasonable to suggest that with an ownership structure such as Franchise has, they have to be very careful not to misrepresent matters such as this so that they can't be accused of fraud. If naming rights were sold on the basis of the money going directly to the football club, when in fact they went to InterMK, then that would be fraud, so you can bet your bottom dollar that Winkelman's not going to make that mistake. 

Cullen's careful use of words to describe dealings regarding the stadium can also be noted in his response to an email from one of the Franchise customers:

In his response Cullen uses the key phrase, "we want to encourage as many supporters to use red dot bar as money spent there will trickle down to the club". "Trickle down" - yes, that does mean exactly what you think it does, the football club will only see a fraction of the money from the bar, if anything at all. Cullen's response also confirms my earlier posting on the status of the hotel bar's ownership: There's no guarantee that a single penny spent in the hotel or bar would ever end up with the football club.

On a thread discussing the naming rights issue, just one of the Franchise customers manages to spot the key fact that the club doesn't own the stadium, but it's lost in the welter of poor saps falling for the classic Winkelman "enthusiasm" about Milton Keynes: 

Will the Franchise customers ever wake up to what's actually going on? I doubt it. They've swallowed the Winkelman hype wholseale for 9 years, so I see no reason for that to change now. However, there are the initial rumblings of dissatisfaction about lack of money spent on the team. How ironic it will be if the customers finally get up in arms about something if it's based on all the money InterMK has been or will be making from the property deal and stadium, money which they think has gone to the football club! They aren't all that dumb - or shall I be kind and say 'misinformed'? - but there are enough of them calling for Winkelman to dip into the £56m from the property deal ( to suggest that understanding who owns what still isn't very high on the priority list for many Franchise customers. Well, what else can you expect from customers? It's not like they're bothered about which football club it is playing in Winkelman's stadium, any Football League club would have done.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

But what about the football club?

Before you read the attached link, remind yourself that what it's supposed to be about is a football club, playing in a stadium that's far too big for it. By the end of this thread, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that, thanks to the way the Franchise customers, as ever, attempt to 'defend' the situation...

The essential premise is simple - the absurdity of a team attracting 8,000 customers playing in a stadium that houses 32,000, resulting in the bad atmosphere it does and the unsupportable finances for the team.

Rather than actually deal with that reality, the Franchise customers go rambling off about all sorts of things - even suggesting T20 cricket at a venue that's not remotely big enough to house it!

There is one thing that all of these customers fail to address though - the football club doesn't own the stadium. The football club doesn't benefit from other events at the stadium.

These people aren't football fans, and in this instance they aren't even Franchise customers, what they are is Winkelman/InterMK fans! That's who benefits from the completed stadium and other events, not the football club.

This is the most extraordinary thing to still observe at work at Franchise - the customers who simply cannot tell the difference between what's good for the football club and what's good for Winkelman or MK council. They are literally incapable of seeing that the two things are not the same. And they wonder why they are despised as 'Franchise customers', when they care more about a lump of concrete owned by a property dealer than they do about the football club that they claim to support.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Still a property deal

If you ever had any doubt about why Wimbledon's Football League place was franchised off to Milton Keynes, today's news should help cement the reality that it always was just a property deal:

As the report highlights, we have the prospect next season of football crowds of barely 8,000 in a stadium that can house 32,000. Not only will it make for a continued abysmal atmosphere at Franchise FC games, but it will continue to be financially unsupportable for the football club. None of that matters though, as you can tell from what Winkelman says:

"It's not about the capacity for the football in the short term," Winkelman added. "It's about the cultural infrastructure of Milton Keynes. We set our stall out that we would go and build a Uefa standard stadium. It's already brought us international games and of course the Saints games last year. So it's really about all the things we can do if we get the stadium finished."

It's not about the football team (still making massive losses), it's about him finishing HIS stadium so he can put on other events there. And bear in mind, even if Franchise FC got promoted to the Championship, they wouldn't even regularly fill the current 21,000 capacity, never mind the increased 32,000 limit.

It never was about the football team and it still isn't - it was just a property deal facilitated by a Football League place. Even with Winkelman's quotes today, there will be the deluded few Franchise customers that continue to swallow his "infectious enthusiasm", but when big pay days for a visiting rugby club (from which Franchise FC does NOT see any money remember) are more important than the needs of the football club, it's not hard to see where things are headed. 'MK Red Bull Dons' playing home games at the Winkelman Wasps Rugby Bowl anyone? It would sound far fetched if one hadn't witnessed the horrible events of the last ten years. Now, some version of that ludicrous suggestion I've just made is all too possible. We've known Winkelman was looking for a rugby club to play at the stadium from day one and his statement today brings that reality ever closer.

Franchise FC... tenants in a stadium they don't own, playing second fiddle to a rugby club, clinging to the nickname of another town's team and losing money hand over fist. It's like Wimbledon FC in 2001 - except it's a division lower and much, much worse.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Heartbreak hotel

The depth of misunderstanding and ignorance evident amongst Franchise customers sometimes really does defy belief. A recent example is the complete lack of knowledge or understanding of the workings of the hotel that forms part of the MK stadium complex - although their outrage at the matter is also rather amusing, particularly when you realise how misplaced it is.

Here's a link to the thread that brought this up:

Now, the first thing to note - in fact just about the only thing, because everything else follows on from this - is that the football club does not own the hotel or its bar. I think most people, upon being told that, will realise the implications, but not it seems a lot of Franchise customers.

For starters, what possesses them to presume that a hotel bar, however close it is to the pitch, is actually connected to the football club by either ownership or management? What on earth makes them think that Hilton Doubletree gives any control or financial support to the football club, which just happens to play on the pitch that's also part of the stadium complex? It's stuff like this that makes one realise just how much they still don't understand the importance of the football club itself owning the stadium - which Franchise FC doesn't of course.

I'm sure it will greatly amuse a few people that here we have a bunch of Franchise customers handing over money for exorbitantly priced food and drink in a hotel bar, on the entirely misplaced assumption that it's somehow connected to 'their' football club, when the reality is that every last penny of that money is going to Hilton Doubletree. On another thread they are even talking about arranging more social evenings at the venue... which will also benefit the hotel and not the football club. Personally, I can't make up my mind whether it's hilarious or tragically dumb - probably both at the same time.

If they ever wake up to these realities it might open their eyes to a lot of other things, but, based on the current level of misinformation, I think we can expect them to be mushrooms* for a long while yet.

*Kept in the dark and fed on shit.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

It's the little things that count

Franchise customers will maintain their delusions about the state of 'their' club no matter what the facts are, but sometimes even the smallest piece of information can tell you what's really going on. Take this little snippet from a piece that is ostensibly, at first, nothing to do with Franchise:

 "Striker Sam Baldock, who has scored four goals in his last four games, will again start against the Championship's bottom club tonight and Allardyce said: "I went to watch him after a phonecall from the MK Dons manager, Karl Robinson. He told me he had a good striker at the club but that they needed to sell him to get some money in.""

In just one little quote, a great deal is revealed. Not only did Franchise have to sell the player, but it's the manager doing the selling! Now, bear in mind that virtually none of the £2m-plus received for Baldock went on a replacement. The message is clear - the only way Franchise now has of surviving is by selling players. The supermarket money is gone, there are no more property deal subsidies and the bank loan can't continue indefinitely. What we have here is the clearest admission yet (on top of Winkelman's comments about sustainability that the Franchise experiment is still very much in the balance financially.

Thanks Sam. Winkelman has been desperate not to publicise just how bad things are for Franchise FC, but 'Big Sam' has just let a rather scary cat out of the bag. Franchise FC will probably survive, much as Wimbledon FC would have if Winkelman hadn't poached it to MK, but it's increasingly clear they will have to keep finding players to sell just to stay alive.

And why do I bring all this up? Because, of course, it is the difficult state of Wimbledon FC's finances that were used to leverage the franchising move. Yet here we have Franchise FC in precisely the same situation - crowds too low to sustain the team at the level it's at, costs too high for a team that doesn't own its stadium and a business only kept going by player sales. Wimbledon FC survived that way for many years and could have continued to do so but for Winkelman's intervention. Will Winkelman be able to achieve as much? If not, both he and Franchise FC are set to receive zero sympathy having stolen another community's club using exactly the same situation as an excuse.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Arsenal

I was asked a while back to do a piece about the Arsenal situation from back in 1913. Getting around to it now, although frankly I always have and still do consider it to be of no consequence whatsoever and purely of historical interest. I've touched on it before, but let's address the specific points that tend to come up...

Was Arsenal the first franchised football club?
Yes and no. Yes, they moved a significant distance from where they were playing at the time. No, because even though the distance was more significant at the time than now, the move was still within what was considered to be London. If I'd been a fan at the time, I would still have been mightily annoyed by the move, opposed it and considered it a bad thing, but moving from one suburb of London to another simply isn't the same as moving a team from a suburb of London to a completely different town in Buckinghamshire.

Now, bear in mind that this is as good as the argument gets for those claiming Arsenal's move is in any way relevant to the creation of Franchise FC. In order to support even this part of the argument they have to resort to pointing out that travelling from Woolwich to north London was harder in 1913 than now, which, while true, isn't a big enough factor to make Arsenal's move a genuine case of moving a sports franchise. Bear in mind that sports franchising as we understand it is based on the North American sports model, so moving between even the most distant suburbs of, for example, the city of New York, would also not be in the same category.

Did Arsenal break the rules in 1913?
No. There were no rules preventing teams from moving. By 2002, the Football League did have a rule that it considered prohibited the movement of clubs between towns and it twice stuck to that rule in opposing the move to Milton Keynes. With this in mind, there is simply no comparison between the two cases, regardless of whether you think the moves are right or wrong. For instance, I think moving teams between towns/cities in the US is wrong, but the rules of their sports leagues specifically allow it, whereas the Football League's opinion in 2002 was that its own rules opposed such movements. This is what makes Franchise FC's move wrong and incomparable with circumstances where there were no rules or the rules allow moves between towns.

I may not like what Arsenal did in 1913, but there were no rules then to stop it. The rule in place in 2002, which the Football League used for twice rejecting the move to MK, was introduced subsequent to the Arsenal move. So all that is proved by bringing up the Arsenal move is that progress that had been made was rolled back by the 2002 move to the far more chaotic and dissatisfactory situation of 1913. Clearly not a good thing.

What was the state of the league pyramid in 1913?
This is pretty much the clincher on the whole Arsenal issue, because the league system as we now know it simply didn't exist. A second division was only added in 1892 and automatic promotion and relegation between the divisions didn't happen until 1898. ( So, in 1913 the 'football pyramid' consists of just two divisions of 20 teams each (1905 expansion). All any 'new' club had to do at that stage was be created, get itself elected to the second division and then win one promotion to be in the top division! And all of that would have been within the rules - and indeed exactly that sort of thing was relatively commonplace then - as was all sorts of underhand dealings like the collusion between 'test' teams and Arsenal's elevation to the first division after the war, for example.

Basically, it's like the Football League at this time was the Wild West, where law was random and rough at best, compared with a century later when far greater order had been applied to the game and the cowboys had been run out of town - or so we thought!

That's the reality here... Those bringing up the Arsenal move in 1913 are basically referencing a situation from a relatively ruleless time as a justification for repeating those actions in the current day. They might as well be asking for the return of lynching and gunfights to the law and order process!

The 1913 Arsenal move is fascinating in how it helped shape the rules of the leagues and opinions on clubs moving. That's it. It's not a precedent for allowing the creation of Franchise FC, because it pre-dated the rules to prevent that and the league system that Milton Keynes leapfrogged in 2002. Discuss it all you want, but the 1913 Arsenal move provides no succour or legitimacy to Franchise FC whatsoever.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Finance links

Breaking down the walls of denial and delusion that have been put up by Franchise customers desperate to establish some legitimacy over the years has never been easy, particularly when it comes to the funding and financial status of Franchise FC. So much was kept secret and of course that came on the back of all the lies Koppel told about the club's status to try to force through the franchising to Milton Keynes. Even quoting from company accounts often doesn't penetrate the state of denial, partly because you actually have to pay for copies of these documents from Companies House, so they are not that freely available to the doubters. However, a recently linked-to website is providing certain summarised facts from company accounts, which has at least got through to a few of the customers in terms of just how bad a financial situation Franchise has always been in and, crucially, still is.

Let's start with the Franchise FC accounts:

You can see the figures there bear out everything I've ever posted on this blog. There is a reason this blog uses the word 'truth' in its title - that's what I write, the truth, based entirely on the facts.

Not surprisingly, having to face up to these appalling figures has got some of the Franchise customers in a spin, which has been countered by others basically claiming that 'we're not as bad as some clubs'. Can you believe it? I can, because I've seen these apologists use exactly the same excuse for the last nine years. For some unknown reason, they seem to think that some other club being in worse trouble than they are makes it OK that they are in trouble. Mad or what? It's like trying to reassure a terminal hospital patient by telling them the patient in the next bed is going to die first! An ugly concept, but that's exactly the spin that is being peddled to Franchise customers and it has been the case for a long while now. Franchise FC may not be on its deathbed just yet, but, crucially, it's in as bad a shape as Wimbledon FC was in 2000. If anyone wants to claim what was done to Wimbledon FC had any legitimacy whatsoever, then they should be saying exactly the same things about Franchise now - it's a struggling club, with little support from the community, that can't balance its books and that doesn't own the stadium it plays in. And bear in mind it's doing all that in a division below where Wimbledon FC were!

If you want to check out more of the complex goings on above Franchise FC in the company structure, check out the other companies Winkelman is involved with:

It's not so easy to work out exactly the status of the InterMK companies ( and , but pay close attention to the current assets of the companies involved. Franchise FC itself has virtually no assets and huge liabilities, clearly showing how the football club itself is still basically insolvent, only a going concern because of the yearly guarantee of additional funds from the holding company.
We will have to wait some time for the impact of this year's player sales to register in published accounts of course, but with the Clydesdale Bank (itself with question marks over it right now) loan due for repayment in 2012, there will be more developments on this front within the next year. Have no illusions, the train of events Winkelman set in motion in 2000 with his approach to poach Wimbledon's football club is still ongoing and still far from reaching a conclusion in terms of the viability of franchising a Football League place.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Reflections on morality

A more contemplative piece than usual, reflecting on the moral aspects of things, particularly with respect to the current situation rather than past events. (Once the common lies have been shown for what they are, there's little point constantly rehashing the facts, although I will revisit certain matters from time to time with fresh posts on the subjects.)

Franchise customers want to be able to view themselves as ordinary football fans and their club as just another football club. A minority claim to revel in the notoriety of Franchise FC and how it came to be, but that's simply the hollow bravado of those who have been forced into that last desperate claim - singing Millwall's 'No one likes us, we don't care' chant is the ultimate irony from a customer base that patently obviously does care what people think of them and their football franchise. So, I'll dispense with the minority of internet warriors, because they may be noisy, but in terms of the Franchise customer base, they simply aren't relevant, whatever they may deludedly think of themselves.

The desire to be viewed as football fans of an ordinary football club is usually accompanied by a raft of arguments about lack of involvement with the franchising move and, ironically for those of us who remember Kris Stewart's quote, of just wanting to watch some football. Now clearly if one wasn't involved directly at the time or even attending early Franchise FC games, then there's nothing to discuss in terms of guilt for the actual move - but that's not what Franchise customers have ever been accused of anyway, which is something a lot of them seem to have a great deal of difficulty grasping. (I have often been given cause to wonder if some of them can actually read and understand basic English and basic argument, because the inability to comprehend even the most straightforward of points and logic crops up far too frequently. As a for instance, what I've just written will, I guarantee it, be reported by some as me saying all Franchise customers are illiterate idiots, when that's simply not what it says. Perhaps the failing is mine for crediting everyone with the same reasonable level of intelligence and understanding, but I'd rather do that than pander to the minority of idiots that can't follow even simple points of argument, logic and reason.)

Franchise customers as a rule seem to think this 'I wasn't involved with the move' line is some sort of Kevlar armour against criticism, but it simply isn't, not if they want to be viewed as football fans following a proper football club instead of customers watching a franchised sport-based entertainment. If they want to be just like other football fans and just like other football clubs, then they are going to have to deal with the moral aspects of how 'their' football club came into being. Let me give you an example:

Here they are expressing outrage that players brought through their academy could be got cheap by bigger clubs. Seems fair enough until you think about what was done to Wimbledon FC's academy as part of the creation of Franchise FC. From a moral standpoint, if they want to show outrage at this sort of thing, then they must also deal with the appalling mistreatment of the academy boys at Wimbledon FC by the people who are still in charge at Franchise. To not do so is to demonstrate blatant hypocrisy.

And let's deal with the 'move on' and 'it's in the past' aspects here as well... Simply because something happened in the past does not mean it can simply be forgotten about. If someone is verbally rude to me today, do they expect that tomorrow they can say 'get over it, that was yesterday' and expect me to forgive or forget? No, of course not. When something wrong is done it must either be corrected or at the very least apologised for, and mere passage of time, be it a day, a month, a year or ten years, will not change the situation one bit.

This is the key aspect that a large number of Franchise customers will not come to terms with - wrongs were done that have never been righted or even apologised for. Those wrongs were done in the formation of 'their' football club, by a man, Pete Winkelman, who instigated the whole chain of events and who is still chairman and owner of Franchise FC. In these circumstances, you cannot simply act as if the actions he took are no longer relevant, because they are. Every time a Franchise customer pays money into Winkelman's pocket, they are rewarding him for his actions, whether that is their intention or not. And they cannot claim ignorance of this, because the facts are widely enough known and being unaware of them is no defence.

If Franchise customers want protection for the youngsters in their academy, then where is the apology for the treatment of Wimbledon FC's youngsters?

If Franchise customers want understanding that it's taking time to build a customer base in MK, then where is the acceptance that Wimbledon deserved the chance to prove the same thing?

If Franchise customers want time to build on their abysmal away following, then where is the acceptance and understanding of the same issues Wimbledon faced?

If Franchise customers want their club run at a massive loss (which it is) to achieve success, then where is the acceptance that Wimbledon FC was in the same boat and not about to be liquidated?

There are many other factors too, things which the new generation is saying that directly reflect the exact same challenges Wimbledon FC faced, but that were used as excuses for franchising the Football League place and which Franchise customers still parrot back as attempted justification.

Morally, whether they like it or not, Franchise customers face a dilemma every time they hand over money to Winkelman, because the wrongs have not been righted or even apologised for, but they continue to reward people who perpetrated those wrongs. Doing nothing, as they have done this whole time, will not change anything. Wrongdoing will not be forgotten, nor will it become acceptable. Until such time as some form of atonement is made, Franchise FC will widely not be accepted as a legitimate football club and Franchise customers will not be accepted as football fans. I certainly don't care whether they like or even accept this, but they will have to accept it and pressure 'their' football club to do something about it if they ever want things to change.

Personally, I don't think there is either the will or ability within the Franchise customer base to do anything about it - the vast majority are simply the 'customers' that I label them to be, who will never have either the awareness or the desire to do what should be done. When they are dwindling in numbers, as they are, and barely able to raise 100 attendees at many away games, you know there simply isn't the spine or the numbers amongst them to actually do anything about anything, never mind bringing pressure to bear on Winkelman. It seems Franchise FC, to a large extent, gets the people it deserves - customers, not fans.

The customers are fond of proclaiming that they are 'here to stay' - something I've never disagreed with, because Franchise FC may well be around indefinitely - but they don't seem to realise the implication of being 'here to stay'. The wrongdoing is also 'here to stay'. The abuses and lies of the past are 'here to stay'. Those like me who will never forget what was done are 'here to stay'. The lack of acceptance of 'their' club and them as 'fans' is 'here to stay'. Unless they actually do something to change that of course... but they won't. They don't have the collective willpower or common sense to do anything that will make a difference.