Friday, 30 September 2011


A small indulgence, a bit of Friday night fun that's nothing to do with the main subject of the blog... A number of questions have been asked of me regarding myself and the blog, mostly by Franchise customers who can't bear to stick to the facts and think targeting me personally is a good idea, but, as ever, I'm not afraid of the truth, they are.. Here, in all seriousness, honest, are the answers:

1. What gender am I?
I'm not kidding, the customers have been speculating for years now on whether I am a man or a woman. I have revelled in their sexist behaviour, because it demonstrates the kind of individual one is dealing with. They have made gender an issue, where I have ignored it totally. Even when people who have met me face to face have told them I'm a man, they have refused to believe it. Why? Do they honestly think I am belittled by suggestions that I'm a woman? What neanderthal level of intellect must they have to think that? It's almost tempting to get a sex change operation just so that a Franchise customer could be proved to be right about something! Which leads me on to...

2. Why am I so serious?
Ha! When you don't get the joke, the joke's on you. If Franchise customers had any idea of the number of times I have been reduced to fits of giggles at their expense... well, actually, it would just annoy them I suspect, ho hum.

3. Why do I do this?
Because I can.

4. No, really, why do I do this?
Read the bit at the top of the blog! Honestly, these muppets visit the blog, fail to actually read the words and then ask completely moronic questions. I have had to question many times over the years the ability of some English people to actually read English. I know that, the odd typo aside, I write clear and understandable English. I've never doubted it for even a moment and I have the evidence of feedback from thousands of posts to prove it. So, to those claiming I don't make sense - pah! I do. You just wish I didn't.

5. Why do I hate Milton Keynes?
I don't. If you can read and have a brain, you know I do not target Milton Keynes as a town or its residents as a whole. Franchise customers are a self-selecting group of people, who make the choice to put money in the pocket of Winkelman, the man who created Franchise FC. I deem it entirely reasonable to point out to those people the consequences of their actions and the nature of the individual they are rewarding for his actions. If they can't cope with the reality of their own choices, then it is they that have the problem.

6. Why don't I have a life?
I can only conclude this gets asked by people who can only type one word a minute or who think the ability to post things on the internet equates to not being able to drink, have sex, watch movies, dance or any of the other many things I thoroughly enjoy doing. In my estimation, those advising others to 'get a life', are usually doing so out of a wish that they had a better one themselves. Me... I like my life, it's full and satisfying. Thanks for the concern. ;)

7. All the rest of the fiction they have made up about me, usually through misquoting...
Meh. I'm obsessed with the franchising of a Football League place and the actual facts behind it. Those discussing me and aspects of my life are revealing their obsession with me, not the facts about Franchise FC. Those that think they will ever shut me up through ridicule, insults, reverse psychology or any other of the stupid things they have tried, are going to be as sadly disappointed as they have been for the last 9 years. I post when I want to and about the things I deem important or interesting. And yes, I already know their response to this, they are as predictable as the day is long. They should ask themselves this one question - Who's dumber, the person doing something they believe in for a purpose or the person wasting time, effort and energy moaning about something they don't even have the guts, knowledge or intelligence to do something about, while claiming they don't care? They are as transparent now as they have been for the last nine years. And do you know how dumb they are? They are so dumb, that they will continue to try exactly the same things as I've already identified here and think that either I will notice or that it will make a difference. I'm reluctant to conclude that Franchise FC gets the customers it deserves... but... the evidence is mounting up. ;)

There, that should give some of them something to froth about. :)

PS... edited to add... I'll get back to the truth about Franchise FC in the next post... promise! ;)

Tapping up a football club

Everyone in football is now familiar with the concept of 'tapping up' and fans always hate it when this happens to one of their players. So why is it that Franchise customers think it was perfectly OK for Winkelman and the Milton Keynes Stadium Consortium to 'tap up' an entire football club? Tough one to swallow, now isn't it? Do the same Franchise customers that claim Milton Keynes has 'saved' something of Wimbledon FC also claim a player has been 'saved' when another club unsettles him and goads him into a transfer? Because that's precisely what Winkelman and the MKSC did to Wimbledon FC – they took a club already having problems and deliberately sought to destabilise it further by dangling the carrot of a 'free' stadium in Milton Keynes in front of the owners. Winkelman told them exactly what he knew would make the pound signs (or krone in the Norwegians case) light up in their eyes, just as one entices a player to want away from their club with the offer of more money. The fact that to this day Winkelman still maintains the delusion (I'll be generous in this instance and not call it a bare-faced, total lie) that it wasn't about poaching another community's club, shows just how deep in denial some still are about the reality of what happened.

I've touched on this subject before of course, but to remind of just how blatant the tapping up was, let's revisit some of the other attempts made. First off, the confirmation from the FA Commission that it was Winkelman and the MKSC who approached Wimbledon FC:

10. In August 2000 Mr Peter Winkelman of the Milton Keynes Stadium Consortium (MKSC) approached Mr Koppel. MKSC is a group of local business people who together with stakeholders and community groups are working to secure the provision of professional football in Milton Keynes.”

Wimbledon FC hadn't issued a 'come and get me' plea to Milton Keynes – this was Winkelman popping up out of the blue, giving Koppel a nudge and a wink and telling him that MK would build his football club a stadium that the club would own and wouldn't have to pay a penny for. Too good to be true for Koppel... and that's exactly how it turned out, but it didn't stop his greed from getting him to pursue it.

Previous attempts at tapping up clubs had ended in failure, most famously as reported by QPR's Trust. ( and It is telling to remember that QPR fans were told the same thing we were about going to Milton Keynes – move or die! And just look at where QPR are now. Sure, they've had some major ups and downs and upsets along the way, but far from being their only option to be saved, Milton Keynes now looks like it would have been as disastrous for them as it was for Wimbledon FC. And it's telling to note that if this had gone through, we'd probably now be looking at the 'MK Hoops' in League 1, which tells one everything one needs to know about how absurd it is that a Milton Keynes team continues to have Wimbledon's nickname in its team name.

Luton had been the first to have Winkelman's beady eye settle on them and just look at the promises he was making them too:

Winkelman said: "If Luton Town Football Club decided to move here it would still be an integral part of the town's culture."In fact, young players involved at youth level would benefit immensely from being part of a huge regional team. "A combined club called Luton MK would respect the Hatters past but, more importantly, embrace the future by providing more professional academies, training facilities and club affiliation right across the region."

Check out that “Luton MK” comment. Bear in mind this is long before he told the FA Commission that he supposedly wanted to retain the Wimbledon FC identity (Commission extract, “77. He is an advocate for retaining the identity of WFC and would work with the Football League and WFC to achieve this, if we gave permission for the relocation. He talked of renaming the area “Wimbledon Park” or renaming roads and of the similarities between the new town of Milton Keynes (now almost 30 years old) and WFC.”) Clearly this is a man who was prepared to tell whatever audience he had in front of him whatever they wanted to hear, regardless of his actual intentions, just so long as he got a Football League team to facilitate his property deal.

And let's not have the history re-writers try to warp things, Winkelman was relatively open at the time about having approached many clubs:

Winkelman has made no secret that he tried to persuade Barnet, Luton and QPR to move to Milton Keynes before hitting the jackpot with Wimbledon.”

(Also interesting to note this observation in that 2002 piece: “The local newspaper, the Milton Keynes Citizen, has received no letters expressing the kind of moral outrage heard in SW19. Driving through the city you understand why. The strangely antiseptic atmosphere makes Milton Keynes the perfect location for such a franchise move. It is hard to glean any sense of community. Houses are peculiarly hard to find. The city centre is defined wholly by its gigantic shopping centre - the kind of structure which in any other city would be on the windy outskirts, on some brownfield industrial estate.” It really does seem to have been a do-nothing place – do nothing to make the move happen and do nothing to stop it.)

Wimbledon FC were tapped up by Winkelman and, as the report above says, in the greedy but foolish owners of the club he hit the jackpot. Wimbledon FC wasn't 'saved', it was tapped up with false promises that still to this day haven't been met – the stadium isn't finished, the football club doesn't own it, nothing of Wimbledon FC survives in MK and all the recommendations from the FA Commission were signed away in the 2006 accord. Winkelman still owns Franchise FC, Winkelman owns the stadium and Winkelman is the one still profiting from his own piece of tapping up. And Franchise customers wonder why this whole issue won't go away, when they continue to put money in Winkelman's pocket and treat him as some sort of hero. When you know the truth about what Winkelman did, you'd never pay him a penny.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Spot the customer

Here's a bit of fun I wrote a while back before I started the blog and which the folks at the Womble Underground Press ( were kind enough to publish in the fanzine. See how many of these you've come across...

Franchise customers and the weak-shit arguments they will put up

1. The ex-Wimbledon fan
The guilt and hatred run deep with the few of these one runs into. Without exception they have the shared delusion that we left our club too early in 2002. (Picture them huddled together on a frozen, empty concourse in MK, chanting the mantra “You abandoned the club” in a vain effort to keep warm and to bolster their fragile psyches.) Astounding though it is, these people have constructed a world in their heads in which the fans could somehow have stopped Wimbledon FC going to Milton Keynes after the FA Commission verdict. The fact that not one of them – ever – has come up with a plausible way that could happen, even with hindsight, still doesn't shake their absurd belief. One cannot argue with illogical denial on this scale – these people are simply mad, wrong and best avoided. No logical argument registers with them on any level. The best you can do is point out that on 29th May 2002 we expected WFC to play the following season in MK and therefore had to re-form a club immediately so that we had a team to watch that season. Also point out that it's not our fault that Koppel and Winkelman were so incompetent that the move didn't happen for a further 18 months. None of this will dent the dogmatic belief of the delusional ex-Womble, but it will register with any neutrals witnessing or participating in the exchange – and that's the best you can do. (Unless interventions to de-program cult brainwashing are possible, but I'd only recommend that if you're unfortunate enough to have a close relative that's this certifiable.)

2. The Arsenal historian
This smug git will trot out the notion that because Arsenal moved from Woolwich to north London in 1913 it establishes them as the first franchised club in England and somehow, inexplicably, makes WFC moving to MK more acceptable. Easy peasy this one – it was within London, there were no rules to prevent it at the time, the pyramid didn't exist and promotion and relegation were regularly tinkered with. Point out that the Arsenal scenario was precisely why rules to prevent clubs moving were introduced! Thus, anyone using this argument is basically saying it's OK to write off 90 years of progress and development and return to 1913's rule-less world. As justifications go it's hopeless and should just be laughed at. Arsenal weren't a precedent franchise, they were the warning shot that should have still been heard loud and clear in 2002 by the FA Commission.

3. Mr Think-of-the-children
This one really sticks in the craw – the adults who claim they went along to Franchise because their children wanted to and that these children are just watching their local football club, so it's OK. Anyone using this cowardly argument simply doesn't deserve to be called an adult – it is pathetic to hide behind one's children, using them as a human shield against all criticism. It's despicable and simply should not be countenanced. Far from accepting this argument it should be rejected point blank as cowardice and a failure to accept one's responsibilities as an adult.
The wrinkle with this one is the increasing number of now maturing children in MK who did just want to watch a football club and were taken to Franchise by a parent. What does one say to them? I've no answer to that one. All I can tell you is that some of the teenagers I've encountered have been so misinformed and ignorant of the truth that it's tantamount to brainwashing. It's hardly surprising when you know they've been hanging about with the rest of the nutters on this list!

4. The legal smeagol
Now this nasty gollum of a character takes refuge in the supposed defence that “everything was legal” and therefore Wimbledon's football club and Football League place were not stolen from its fans. Do not get sucked into this pointless tangent. It didn't need to be illegal to be wrong. Plus, what recompense did Wimbledon fans get for having our club taken away? None. And when they bring out the fact that we didn't 'own' the club, just ask them whether they are an integral part of their football club or not, because that's one they simply can't get round. Either they are part of their club (legally or not) or they have to concede they aren't really a football fan as we know it, but just a customer of a business.

5. The ignorant moron
Astonishingly one still encounters a cretinous few that come up with the 'argument' (for want of a better term) that we were poorly supported and didn't try hard enough to keep our club and that this somehow justifies what happened. Beggars belief, I know, but these neanderthal knuckle-draggers are still out there. To be honest, trying to reason with these idiots is as pointless as I hope Franchise are every season. You could waste your breath for hours explaining that a small support doesn't justify moving a club or that we did everything we could (legally) to stop the move, but at the end of it they'd still parrot back the same line at you. Sadly, science hasn't found a cure for sheer stupidity yet.

6. The media conspiracist
There's been quite a few sightings of this whining baby just lately, because of us regaining Football League status and all the publicity. Their line goes like this... “I'm happy for AFC but I wish the media would stop believing and printing all the lies about us and produce something balanced.” They really think that we've somehow influenced the media or that everyone doesn't really know what happened! Can you believe it? These newbie know-nothings think everyone else doesn't know what went on! Best thing here is to ask them to come up with the 'lies' and then (IF they come up with anything) shoot down whatever nonsense they've imagined isn't true. As we all know, there are nearly always inaccuracies in any press report on the subject, but this notion that it isn't 'balanced' is just wishful thinking and needs exposing as such.

7. The special case apologist
There are a few who will genuinely dare to tell you that Milton Keynes was a special case and deserved to have the rules broken for them. They will tell you it was unreasonable for them to have to compete with longer established towns and teams because they had only been around since the 1960s. They will even tell you that the special dispensations and encouragements given to companies to relocate there should apply to a football team! Hard to know what to say to them – except to point out the mockery this line of argument makes of MK being a 'can do' place. Oh... and just when they think you might be stumped, point out that if Stevenage could do it, then so could MK have. Job done.

8. The delusional optimist
This regular visitor has also been seen of late, making the same baseless prediction they have for the last 9 years. Every time something happens involving Wimbledon, up they pop to predict that now everyone will see through us, that all our misdeeds will be revealed and that we'll all be shown up as nasty people. These twits have been predicting the football world turning against us from day one and it is a triumph of wishful thinking over experience. You'd think they would have realised by now that most fans despised what was done to Wimbledon and love what we've achieved in the last nine years – and nothing is going to change that. So, this dimwit doesn't even need answering, except with a smug smile of satisfaction that they will be permanently disappointed.

9. The mud grubber
Battered down by having to face the facts, some customers try to make themselves feel better by saying Wimbledon have screwed Kingstonian. Now we all know that sharing a ground with another team isn't ideal, but Kingstonian are now in a much better situation than they were when we arrived at Kingsmeadow and that is, in no small way, down to Wimbledon. I'll spare you most of the detail as you probably already know it, but when the 'mud grubber' tries to tell you we did the dirty on Kingstonian's Trust's attempt to buy the ground, all that's needed is to point out that we were still in the process of helping them even set up a Trust and it would have been many months and probably years before it could have attempted to raise even a fraction of what we did to buy the ground from Khosla. On this one, just acquaint yourself with the facts and, as with everything else, don't be shy of repeating them because we have nothing to hide.

10. The shit geographer
It is positively the last resort of the desperate scoundrel to bring up the fact that we aren't in Merton or Wimbledon itself. Yes, we would like to be, but we are a short bus ride or reasonable walk away from Wimbledon, so this nonsense is easily shot down. It is ironic in the extreme that Franchise customers defending the 60 mile move, then try slagging us off for being just a stone's throw from home. Always worth pointing out that a small boundary change could even put Kingsmeadow in Merton! And those boundary changes happen quite often too. Basically, this one's laughable and laughing at whoever argues this crap is the way to go.

11. The council hater
Now this may be a bit controversial even amongst our own support, but you will encounter Franchise customers who blame Merton council for everything... and I mean everything, which is utter nonsense. Merton screwed up by allowing the covenant on Plough Lane to be removed, but , like everyone else, they believed it was so the club could redevelop the land to include a football stadium. At worst they were as guilty as nearly all of the rest of us of not having sufficient foresight. Merton council didn't kill our club, they didn't ever reject a planning application for a ground and, although at times we would have liked them to do more of course, it's not a council's job to pay for football grounds. The council hater is simply trying to shift blame from where it rightly lies – with Hammam, Koppel, the Norwegians and Winkelman.

12. The dictionary delver
You can have such fun with a certain breed of denier who claims that the word 'franchise' is being wrongly applied to Franchise FC. They're wrong. Franchise was coined and stuck because a Football League place was bought by another town, thereby replicating the North American sports franchising system. Denying this is futile, but they try to anyway. The label stuck precisely because it was so accurate and captured the essence of what had been done. That's all that needs to be said, no matter how many links get posted to dictionaries that don't even contradict this link to the US sports franchise system.

12. The continuation liar
A more recent creation is the liar that claims Franchise FC is the “legal continuation” of Wimbledon FC. It isn't. There is simply no argument on this – it isn't. How nastily pervasive this rubbish is, can be seen from the fact that mainstream media have fallen for it too, so this one needs stomping on at every opportunity. How? In 2003 Wimbledon Football Club Limited (a company owning Wimbledon FC's assets) entered administration. In 2004 an entirely new company from Milton Keynes purchased WFC Ltd's assets via a CVA. Wimbledon Football Club Limited then continued in administration until 2009, when it was wound up. Hence there is no legal continuation of a football club or anything else. This one is absolutely black and white – do not accept any other, incorrect, assertions.

13. The Noades dredger
Some Franchise customers got so desperate to find something, anything, to throw back, that they dig up an inglorious episode from the late 1970s-early 1980s, when Ron Noades, Sam Hammam and other Wimbledon FC directors bought Milton Keynes City. Unbelievably, the claim is that because of this it somehow justifies what happened in 2002! Now how does Ron Noades contemplating a move to MK 20 years earlier make it right that it should happen in 2002?! Beyond belief, I'm sure you'll agree. As a side note, although the episode is yet more evidence that Noades and Hammam were out for themselves and not the club, do not believe the lie that they destroyed MK City, they didn't. They sold it and it was a couple of years later when it finally floundered, as with all previous MK clubs due to a lack of local support both in attendance and from local businesses. It reflects badly on all concerned, but it in no way excuses the actions of Winkelman and the Milton Keynes Stadium Consortium in trying to lure Football League clubs to MK in the late 1990s.

There are more – there are as many excuses as there are Franchise customers. And remember, this was a bit of fun, but these delusional history re-writers are out there and intent on trying to force their twisted, inaccurate, lying version of things on the world. Don't let it happen. Counter this crap wherever you find it, because it does still matter and their increasing volume of lies about Wimbledon and what was done cannot be allowed to gain any credence, because it makes a mockery of what Wimbledon fans went through.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The king of the deluded people

Sometimes it's hard to know whether a Franchise customer really believes the tosh they spout or are just lying to try to curry favour or impress. Take this delusional nut:

"It's that factor that ensures we're so well run off the pitch and ensures that we don't take risks financially (we certainly don't mortgage our future on a doomed WC2018 bid like some clubs. I think we stretched to a champagne reception and a couple of photo-calls) . We know we'd be the last club to be able to get the collection buckets out across the country if we were ever to hit real trouble and it's that "us against them" factor that ensures the fanbase continues to grow strengthen it's resolve. We just feed on the hatred."

Let's take it piece by piece to see just how totally this falls apart when you actually look at the facts.

"It's that factor that ensures we're so well run off the pitch and ensures that we don't take risks financially..."

A club that has never made a profit, that has lost a bare minimum of £1.5m per year and usually much more, that is over £10m in debt and has a massive bank loan of £5.5m. Makes you wonder what this loon would consider taking risks financially!

"we certainly don't mortgage our future on a doomed WC2018 bid like some clubs. I think we stretched to a champagne reception and a couple of photo-calls"

Funny how that stadium that was going to get a third tier for the World Cup still doesn't even have its second tier finished then. Since Franchise has basically been insolvent and entirely dependent for its survival on money from the supermarket property deal and now the bank, it really is beyond belief that this individual thinks it's other clubs that have a problem and not Franchise. And what is a £5.5m bank loan if not a mortgaged future?

"We know we'd be the last club to be able to get the collection buckets out across the country if we were ever to hit real trouble"

Wow! A statement that actually resembles reality. Except for one thing - Franchise has been in "real trouble" from the start. Every set of accounts has had to state that the club is only a going concern because the parent company agrees to keep funding the huge losses on a year by year basis. Presumably this poster thinks "real trouble" isn't losing millions of pounds, but having the bank say 'We'd like our £5.5m back please'. That's due to happen in July 2012, so the club had better sell some more players or the parent company sell some more land by then. 

"it's that "us against them" factor that ensures the fanbase continues to grow strengthen it's resolve. We just feed on the hatred."

Except the customer base isn't growing - it shrunk rapidly last season and has stayed that way so far this season, despite being high in the table. Indeed the attendances have fallen for the last two years - 2009-10,551, 2010-10,290, 2011-8,512 So is it a lie or plain delusion on the poster's part? Pure wishful thinking in denial of the facts I'd say. They desperately want these things to be true, but a brief look at the financial facts and the attendances show it's hollow words with no basis in fact.

As for feeding on the hatred? Ha! That's the most wishful thinking of all. Remember, Franchise is still attended by a higher proportion of children than any other Football League team - something like a third of their season tickets - so all this talk of feeding off the hatred is simply nonsense. Either that or Franchise customers will be bringing up some very odd youngsters indeed!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Irony absence in Milton Keynes

If you want to know one of the reasons I run this little blog, you need look no further than a recent post on a Franchise forum, on the subject of why Wimbledon FC hadn't gone back to Wimbledon from Selhurst Park:

"No it's a post hoc argument brought up to justify the continuing spiteful campaign against Milton Keynes. If there was the will or the possibility of finding a local ground and preferably a local wealthy backer then these options would have surely been explored. Most of the stuff I've read is mere jealousy that we've effectively got something for nothing."

Read here: for more on why the owners of Wimbledon FC simply weren't trying to find a ground locally after the MK approach. I've covered it in other posts too, and after nine years it's hardly a secret as to why the owners weren't looking for a ground in London or looking for investors. Yet here we have this dimwit writing it off as jealousy that MK got something for nothing, while they blithely ignore those who were around at the time and know far better what went on and why.

This same poster then goes on to defend their own actions of enjoying the "something for nothing" thus:

"I still don't really give a flying {expletive deleted} about who did what and to whom before WFC came to Milton Keynes. I had no say in the matter - when they arrived I simply went along for something different to do with my children on a Saturday afternoon. I'm now an MK Dons season ticket holder (my children have bigger fish to fry)."

 Astonishing that someone can accuse others of "post hoc argument" while employing precisely that to try to salve their own conscience about what was done to Wimbledon FC. This is precisely the sort of thing people need making aware of - these Franchise customers really don't know the truth, yet have convinced themselves that the lies and misinformation they've either been fed or made up over the years are true!

It quite beggars belief that someone claiming they don't even care about the rights and wrongs of the situation is also prepared to spew out the old lies about Wimbledon's football club. And this fool wonders why some people insist on 'keeping the pot boiling'. With people like this around, the pot will be kept bubbling for many years yet, right up until they and Franchise FC actually do something about the lies they spread, stop using Wimbledon's nickname in vain and start actually facing up to the truth.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Franchise finance 2

Wimbledon fans will remember how we had it bludgeoned into us by Koppel and co that the club wasn't getting enough income to survive, so with Franchise challenging for promotion back to where all Koppel's dire predictions were made (division 2, 'The Championship' for you branded yoof), how are Franchise's finances stacking up against what is now required in div 2?

Quick reminder first of some of the Franchise's most recent published figures, taken from their 2009-10 accounts:

Turnover: £6.26m (put in perspective by these figures for the top 30 clubs from 2008 - Franchise isn't even half the turnover of the 30th club -
Operating expenses: £7.71m
Operating loss: £1.45m
Net liabilities: £8.01m {an overall debt figure}
Staff costs: £4.7m {this includes 47 full-time playing, training and management employees}

Now, let's do some 'fag packet' maths based on the most recent yearly salary figures we have for players, based on 2006 numbers from The Independent:

Average 'League 1' player yearly salary: £67,850
Average 'Championship' player yearly salary: £195,750

Based on a small squad (to be very conservative) of 20, that would mean this:

20 players at L1 average: £1.35m
20 players at Champ average: £3.9m

Difference: £2.55m

And remember this is based on 2006 figures and wage demands in football have gone up, not down over those five years, so the wage increase of £2.5m to go from div 3 to div 2 is probably an underestimate. And I haven't even factored in loan players in this or the cost of assembling a squad capable of surviving in the higher division, which would mean Franchise buying players, not selling them.

Then let's look at how you fund that (excluding TV revenue for now). Across a 23 home games league season, using a ticket price of £25 (excluding costs for now), that's an extra 4,300 required on every attendance. In other words, Franchise would have to average over 14,000 (home gate average was over 10,000 for the 2009-10 season covered by the latest accounts) for its home games to even remotely cover the increased wage costs - and this is before all other increased costs have been taken into consideration.

Bear in mind that season tickets will reduce the amount received per game well below the £25 ticket price I've used, the high percentage of child tickets further reduces income and there are a host of other costs to consider too - additional stewarding, policing and so on... £25 per head is extremely generous.

The big plus for Franchise, of course, would be TV money, with each div 2 side receiving about £2.5m, compared to just £440,000 in div 3, so that's an extra £2m received.

While the increased TV revenue will offset a lot of the increase in wages, it certainly won't completely cover it, and that's without taking into account the additional costs that don't relate to player wages. And this is a club that was already losing £1.5m per year (minimum in the last 6 years). Also, take into account that for the year 2009-10 when it made the £1.5m loss, Franchise averaged a home gate of more than 10,000, but it currently only gets about 8,000, so the real break-even number is likely to be around the 15,000 mark.

All of the projections are, of course, guesstimates, but the existing accounts and current statistics are solid for basing them on. You can probably find a similar story at quite a few clubs, Franchise isn't unique in this by a long chalk, but the bottom line is that Franchise has a huge problem. In order to progress, it's going to have to spend more, much more, at a time when it is still losing money heavily. And even if it gets promoted, the costs keep rising without any guarantee of being able to cover them. Unless it could boost attendances to around the 15,000 mark, the numbers simply don't add up. Where's Charles Koppel when you need him? He'd be threatening to liquidate them based on the 8,000 gates they're getting!

Oh, and one more thing, Franchise's current loan facility from the Clydesdale Bank of £5.5m is a term loan that is repayable in July 2012. I wonder how much of the Baldock transfer fee is headed in the Clydesdale's direction? And where's the rest of that loan repayment going to come from? The clock is still ticking on Franchise's future.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

What is a football club?

In my last update I said I considered ex-Wimbledon fans that are now Franchise customers to have never really been Wimbledon fans and, predictably, the customers are up in arms about it. The thing is... it's true. Why? The reason is that it all hinges on what one believes a 'football club' to actually be. You have to establish this first before you can assess the loyalty of the individual to the 'club'. Now, I freely accept that one can define a 'football club' in a number of ways, but, no matter how you define 'Wimbledon football club', no one now supporting Franchise FC in Milton Keynes has kept supporting the same club. They may think they have, but the facts prove them wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt. Naturally this is an unpalatable truth for them to have to face, but it is a truth nonetheless.

Let's look at the legitimate ways one can define a 'football club', just to nail home why those ex-Wimbledon fans turn out to just be customers:

A football club is a legal entity - limited company, PLC, etc
This is a perfectly acceptable definition of a football club, but, if you choose to adhere to it, then you have to accept that when the company changes, then the 'football club' changes. And, as I've demonstrated before with SW16girl's added knowledge, Wimbledon FC Ltd never exited administration and was wound up in 2009 ( So, if you do believe a 'football club' is the legal entity that 'owns' the club, then Franchise FC categorically isn't the same club as Wimbledon fans were supporting prior to May 2002, so ex-Wimbledon fans following Franchise FC have certainly abandoned their club.

A football club is the team - players and management
This seems reasonable enough on the surface of it, but has one major flaw, in that players and management come and go over the course of time. They are also employed by the 'club', so their loyalty to it is the most fragile of all, determined by legally enforceable contracts, so why define them as the key aspect constituting the club? Currently, if you believe this definition of a 'football club', you are basically claiming that Dean Lewington is Wimbledon's football club, because he's the only player who was playing for Wimbledon FC before the move, that transferred (his contract, in 2004) to Franchise FC and is still there. And when he goes, what then?

To highlight the flimsiness of this particular definition, if a manager quits a team and then signs the majority of his old players for a different team, then anyone defining a football club this way would have to follow that manager and those players. Implausible? Not at all. In the early days of AFC Wimbledon, Dave Anderson was signed as manager and brought a large chunk of his Hendon team with him. Did that make us Hendon? I suppose some might say yes, but that's what one has to accept if you use this definition of a 'football club'.

So, any Franchise customers using this particular definition of a 'football club' are currently supporting Dean Lewington, and once he's gone, even that shred of a link is gone. I wonder if ex-Wimbledon fans that are now Franchise customers would prefer to be known as 'Dean Lewington fans'? That would be accurate at least.

A football club is the name
Fairly easy this one - Wimbledon FC stopped being used as a name in 2004. Some Franchise customers did indeed cease supporting Franchise at this point and at least they were consistent in their view of what a football club is. Personally, I think it's a flimsy definition that's open to huge abuses, as the Wimbledon FC example demonstrated. When a team that's named after a particular town can be moved more than 60 miles away, it rather makes a mockery of this definition of a 'football club'.

A football club is the place where it plays
This also has some validity, but in Franchise FC's case, a team playing in Milton Keynes is obviously not the same 'club' as a team playing in Wimbledon or even at Selhurst Park. Indeed, by this definition you would have to conclude that it was a different 'football club' as soon as it had moved from Plough Lane to Selhurst Park. Some Wimbledon fans did indeed stop following the club at that point. So, it's an acceptable definition, but it's not helping any Franchise customers escape the fact that they abandoned a football club.

Other recent re-formed clubs like AFC Telford and Chester City have continued to play at the stadiums where their teams played before, and this too provides a continuous link, but that also doesn't help Franchise customers out.

A football club is all the parts that make it up - fans, players, employees and other community stakeholders
This is the definition chosen by AFC Wimbledon and repeated on the club's website: "We consider that a football club is not simply the legal entity which controls it, but that it is the community formed by the fans and players working towards a common goal." (

Now, some would say that some of Wimbledon's fans went to Milton Keynes, but seeing as they are in the vast minority, then by this definition they inevitably are the ones splitting off to form a new club.

This is the point to introduce one other aspect - you can't change your definition of 'football club' to suit you in different circumstances. You can't claim it's the legal entity or name in 2002, the players in 2004 and then the community (now Milton Keynes) in 2011. You have to pick your definition and stick to it, otherwise all you're doing is admitting your 'loyalty' isn't worth a damn, because you can switch allegiance so easily from one thing to another. What that means is that regardless of the definitions above that you choose to use, all Franchise customer stopped being a 'Wimbledon fan' sometime between 1991 with the move to Selhurst Park and 2004 with the change of company and name.

And that brings me back to the main point... If one's definition of a 'football club' and sense of belonging to it is so weak and flimsy as to put up with changes of location, name, company, fans and anything else that actually does define a 'football club', then said person never was a 'fan' in the first place, they were just a customer for whatever was easiest to follow at any particular point. Whatever you think of these people, let's not have any illusions about what they have been 'loyal' to, because it isn't a football club by any known definition. If they can't accept that, then it just means they can't accept logic, reason and facts.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Who abandoned who?

One of the oldest lies that Franchise customers still repeat, is the one largely born out of the handful of so-called 'Wimbledon fans' (frankly, I consider them to never have actually been fans at all, they were obviously always just customers) that became Franchise customers. It is the lie that Wimbledon fans abandoned their club. Most football fans recognise this lie of abandonment instantly for the complete nonsense it is, but I'm going to take it apart anyway to hammer home to those who would attempt to re-write history that they cannot and will not be allowed to do so. Fundamentally, what you have to do is place yourself in the position of a Wimbledon fan on 29th May 2002, straight after the FA Commission had given permission for the MK move. Obviously that's easy for any Wimbledon fan of the time to do, but time and faulty memory can distort things, which is what the revisionists are relying on to try to alter the perception of history. So, it's 29th May 2002 and you're a Wimbledon fan...

What does the FA Commission verdict mean?
It means that Wimbledon FC has permission to move to Milton Keynes. It does not force them to. The hindsight revisionists have grasped this aspect of things as indicating that Wimbledon fans should have kept trying to stop the club moving, which ignores two things... Firstly that fans did continue trying to stop the club moving (note the continuing efforts of WISA post-28th May 2002 and secondly that there's no point continuing with approaches that have already failed. It is illogical in the extreme to think that continuing to do what had been done before the Commission would somehow miraculously work after it. Yet that is what the history re-writers would have us believe. Rather than accepting that things would have continued as before, they are asking everyone to believe that something would have magically changed, but, crucially, they have never explained how. I would love to link to one of the revisionists claiming what could have been done, but not one of them has ever put forward an even remotely plausible scenario. On 29th May 2002, nearly all Wimbledon fans knew precisely and correctly what the Commission's verdict meant - it meant their football club was gone, because the owners had chosen Milton Keynes instead of the fans and community and nothing could now stop them.

Can the Commission's verdict be challenged and who by?
The club, the FA and the Football League were all legally bound by the Commission's decision. By the terms of the Commission there was no appeal process for any of them, either through the game's governing bodies or through the courts. (  "However, this is binding on everyone under the Football League rules - there is no appeal.") Who does that leave in a position to challenge the decision and how? Clearly, the only party with any interest in preventing the move is the fans. And what mechanism could have been used, bearing in mind there was no route now available through the sport's governing bodies? The only legal route would have been a judicial review. And how practical would that have been to do? Let's take a look at some aspects of that process...

"The cost of bringing a judicial review claim is considerable: in the region of £10,000 to £20,000 for a straightforward case, higher for a more complex matter. If the claimant is unsuccessful, they are likely to be liable for the defendant’s costs as well as their own. They are therefore looking at a legal bill of upwards of £30,000 if they lose, and they must be prepared for this eventuality, bearing in mind the unpredictability of judicial review proceedings and costs orders."

So Wimbledon fans would have had to have gathered tens of thousands of pounds and then had to face the prospect of paying the club's legal costs (Koppel's lawyers would not have come cheap of course) if we hadn't won the case. So, straight off we'd have been looking at needing £50,000 or even more, and absolutely no guarantee of what the outcome would be. And bear in mind a judicial review would have had to have been sought quickly (within 3 months) and would not have been an option after that, so effectively no legal challenge could be made to the Commission's decision past the end of August 2002.

Given that at this stage neither WISA or The Dons Trust had the finance available to take the matter to judicial review and that even if the funds could be gathered there was absolutely no guarantee of success, you can see why the matter was suggested but not pursued. ( There is still nothing to indicate that a judicial review would have succeeded either. Plus, the funds used on a judicial review would have left nothing over to re-form the club and ensure that there was a Wimbledon football team playing the 2002-3 season. And to put the tin lid on it, a judicial review would have taken considerable time to work through all the necessary stages of, long past the expected date of the team actually playing in Milton Keynes.

So, any legal challenge would have probably crippled any attempt to re-form the club and had no guarantee of success. Clearly, no sensible person would have pursued that route. If even the FA and FL weren't prepared or able to afford to take the legal action necessary to prevent the club moving prior to the Commission, then how were the fans expected to do so after it?

Where will 'Wimbledon FC' be playing the 2002-3 season, kicking off in just 2 months time?
Wimbledon FC was expected to kick off the 2002-3 season in Milton Keynes. Now, if you are new to this or been lied to in the past, read that again and take it in - Wimbledon FC was expected to kick off the 2002-3 season in Milton Keynes - a mere 2 months after the Commission verdict. That is how it was... that was the harsh reality facing Wimbledon fans - that when the new season came around, we would not have a local club to support, because it would be playing in MK. Need proof? Easy...

"Although the new stadium at Milton Keynes will not be ready for next season should the FA say yes, Koppel has two temporary sites where he says Wimbledon could play next season. One belongs to the English Hockey Association. The other is the Milton Keynes Bowl, more famous for rock concerts."

"Wimbledon could be playing in Milton Keynes as early as this August after they were today given permission to move by an independent Football Association commission."

So be in no doubt, what Wimbledon fans had hammered into them (the above links are just a sample) was that if permission was granted, the team would be playing the following season in Milton Keynes. That was the reality faced by Wimbledon fans on 29th May 2002 - travel to Milton Keynes to see Franchise FC play or... do something else!

What happened next to WFC could not be predicted by anyone - and only the most foolish of idiots now would claim they would have expected Koppel and Winkelman to botch the move for a further 18 months. Anyone who tells you they knew there was another 18 months, administration and other factors to come, is simply a liar.

Why has no one come in to 'save' the club in London?
Simple... because it was never for sale and the owners never looked to bring anyone else in prior to the Commission. No one ever had the chance to save the club. Claiming no one in London tried to save the club prior to the Commission is like claiming no one offered to buy your house before you even put it on the market.

And after the Commission? Well why would anyone try to 'save' a club whose owners still hadn't put it up for sale and remained focused on trying to reap the rewards of an MK move, right up to the point they placed the club into administration. But, don't lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with the 29th May 2002 here and at that point the club isn't in administration, isn't for sale and there is absolutely no reason for any outside investor to even think there's an opportunity to get involved with the club. Koppel never appealed for a buyer or new investors to keep the club in London. Read the contemporary pieces linked above - Koppel warns of dire consequences but never appeals for investors or for a solution in London. No one ever had the chance to save Wimbledon FC, because the owners simply didn't want it saved, they wanted it in MK.

Can Wimbledon FC's owners be persuaded to change their minds?
No. What else was anyone supposed to conclude? The fans had battled Dublin previously and had been fighting the MK move for 18 months. All protests and attempts to negotiate with the owners had been met with total refusal, so who in their right mind would expect that to suddenly change? Check out this contemporaneous account of an Official Wimbledon Fans Forum (OWFF) meeting, for the full horror of the club's attitude:

Frankly, it is insane to suggest that after being granted the very thing they had been fighting for (permission to move to MK), that Koppel and the owners would then somehow be more amenable to what the fans wanted. Seriously, anyone that at this point (29th May 2002) suggesting to me that trying to persuade Koppel to change his mind was a worthwhile exercise - I'd have had them sectioned.

Why couldn't the fans step in to save the club?
Again simple - the club wasn't for sale or in a position where the fans could play a part until long after 29th May 2002. All attempts at fan involvement had been rebuffed by the club, precisely because they wanted the MK move and we didn't. You can't save something that refuses all attempts from those that want to actually save it.

On 29th May 2002, any Wimbledon fan aware of the facts and paying attention knew that Wimbledon FC was moving to Milton Keynes, that the owners couldn't be dissuaded, that there were no practical ways to stop the move and that they faced the coming football season without any club to support. Wimbledon FC was dead, it was an MK club, and if Wimbledon was to have a club for the 2002-3 season, then something had to be done and done in a hurry, because the new season was less than 8 weeks away.

That is the truth, that is the reality. AFC Wimbledon wasn't formed even so much as a minute too early. Wimbledon fans didn't abandon their club - the owners of the club conducted a protracted, vigorous and successful campaign to abandon the fans. Those who seek to revise the real history and claim Wimbledon fans abandoned their club, are simply liars, charlatans and pond-scum.