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.

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