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.