Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Paranoid delusions

Ever heard of a football statistic called the 'Red cards to fouls ratio'? No, neither had I. There's a good reason for that - it's of no use to anyone and it's indicative of nothing. However, if you're a Franchise customer, it now apparently means that there's a refereeing conspiracy against Franchise FC. No... I'm not making this up, I'm really not. I know it sounds like far-fetched fiction, but that really is what some of them are claiming. And it's not just one of their usual-suspect loonies on a forum either, it's their customer association:


They end that article by writing, "Have the Dons been targetted unfairly by referees? We'll let you make your own judgement.", but that's a clear judgement in itself - the entire basis of the piece is that Franchise is being targeted, otherwise why write the piece? The only purpose to it is to suggest there is bias against Franchise.

And the whining emanating from some Franchise customers has gone up in volume too, particularly since some paranoid person came up with the 'red cards to fouls ratio' statistic in a vain attempt to prove there's bias against Franchise. What makes it so absurd is that the statistic has no meaning - there is no correlation between fouls and red cards. Indeed, the four red cards Franchise has received this season are all excellent examples of why - they have all been straight red cards. Uncontrolled, studs-up lunges, elbows to the head and similar violent conduct charges get straight red cards.

There is no statistical connection whatsoever between the number of fouls in a match or by a team and the number of offences for which one can receive a straight red card. Bear in mind further that a red card can be received for offences that aren't even fouls! Get sent off for dissent and that's not a foul, but it will still be a red card.

Clearly the paranoia and victim mentality that I wrote about only yesterday are starting to spiral out of control with a growing number at Franchise. Doubtless they are still fooling themselves that it will lead to a 'backs to the wall' fighting spirit, but unfortunately for them, it won't. (It never has. Those pretending anything I've ever written has 'strengthened their resolve' or encouraged customers to attend Franchise, are only fooling themselves.) What it will lead to is more paranoia, greater indiscipline, internal divisions and penalties from the authorities for bringing the game into disrepute. This stuff does filter down to players, who aren't usually the sharpest tools in the box, and it will be in their minds come game time. And anyone with any sense at all knows how that ends up... more whining, more dissent, more berating the officials and... more red cards as a result. Self-fulfilling paranoia. It happens because the players are making it happen. Tell them it's not their fault and they will make it happen even more. It's a vicious circle, which right now Winkelman is helping make spin ever faster.

Frankly I am amazed that Winkelman has not only let things go this far, but has in fact been the main instigator in encouraging this idiotic notion of a referees conspiracy against Franchise. I'll give you a prediction though... He'll be backtracking within the week after someone has a quiet word with him behind the scenes.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Bunker mentality

One hears a lot of nonsense talked in football circles about using an 'us against the world' mentality to motivate players - even Sir Alex Ferguson has been attributed with using such a technique. The problem is that you can only do this on select occasions, otherwise what happens is you create a culture of paranoia, bitterness and victim mentality. And the powerful effects of such a culture within a group of players is not to be underestimated.

Franchise customers have long been ridiculed for their attempt to adopt the Millwall 'No on likes us, we don't care' anthem - it really is utterly cringeworthy - but now it seems the victim mentality and paranoia have spread all the way up to the chairman and owner. Witness Winkelman's reaction yesterday to Franchise's fourth red card in four games:

It's embarrassing on every level. Why is the chairman out there talking to the media when the manager usually would? Can Robinson not be trusted to speak following his team's abysmal disciplinary record? Why is Winkelman blaming the officials for his own players' indiscipline? Why is Winkelman making up lies - Lewington is not grabbed by the throat - about an incident in the game? Why does Winkelman think that the style of football they supposedly play should influence referees' decisions about foul play?

The questions keep stacking up and the only answer is that the Franchise owner has fundamentally lost the plot. Perhaps the pressure of running a loss-making football franchise as part of his property development is starting to tell? One thing is for certain, when the victim mentality and paranoia at Franchise has spread throughout the entire organisation - customers, manager, owner, players - then the only way for them is down, because the mental-energy sapping nature of such an attitude, game-in game-out, creates a spiral of resentment and lashing out that simply makes the problem worse.

Franchise customer forums are even openly discussing the possibility of a referees conspiracy against them! All this from a club that only 2 seasons ago recorded an English football record 128 yellow cards in a single season, has had the manager sent to the stands on a number of occasions and which has been warned about its disciplinary record before.

It is of some amusement to me personally that I have been accused in the past of helping to strengthen the support for Franchise FC by helping foster this kind of 'bunker mentality' among the customers. Well, perhaps today they will realise the bitter end result of adopting such a mentality over a long period - it breeds the paranoia and victim mentality that helps cause yesterday's events. They could all of course have just faced up to the truths a long time ago, wiped the slate clean and started anew, free from guilt, blame and negative thinking, but they've chosen not to, and so we get to witness the embarrassing spectacle of Winkelman basically accusing referees of conspiring against his team. Oh dear, oh dear.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The MK 'can do' myth

A favoured fall-back claim used by Franchise customers when they're on the run and trying to justify the unjustifiable is that Milton Keynes is a 'can do' place, whereas other places, like Merton, aren't. Now for starters it is obviously nonsense that a place can have an attitude, which is where one could happily stop analysing the nonsense, but there is a deeper delusion behind this - the one that people in MK are different to people elsewhere. And no, I really don't make this stuff up, these people really do say these things:

Perhaps they intend coming back later with a witty "Ha-ha, only kidding"? But I digress...

The reality here is simple - Milton Keynes is a new town that was and is given economic advantages and opportunities that are not available to existing towns not designated as 'new' towns. That's it. That's all there is to this 'can do' nonsense. Since the 1960s Milton Keynes has had every possible financial and legislative assistance thrown at it, with planning laws that apply elsewhere being waived to allow massive development of what would otherwise be protected land. Coupled with the incentives and grants given to businesses to encourage them to relocate there, that is the entirety of why Milton Keynes has been able to 'do' the things it has.

Do these people really think anyone in Milton Keynes is different from anyone anywhere else in the country? The idea is, of course, absurd, and yet they persist with this idiocy that MK and its people are somehow different to other places and people. The arrogance and stupidity of it are quite breathtaking.

And don't be fooled into thinking the whole 'new town' business belongs back in the '60s and '70s, Milton Keynes is still receiving significantly greater assistance than other areas:

Pete Winkelman isn't the only property developer and businessman to have taken advantage of the Milton Keynes situation to line his own pockets (he didn't even own the land on which the development is sited, it was council-owned land, despite what an ignorant few Franchise customers believe), but he is the only one who thought it was OK to destroy another town's football club to get what he wanted.

As for having a 'can do' attitude? The answer to that is the same as it has always been - Couldn't set up and support a football club up through non-League the way everyone else has. Couldn't do what Stevenage, another new town, has done. Couldn't do what Wimbledon has done twice. Could not, would not, will not... ever. Can do? Laughable.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Follow the money

To be fair to some Franchise customers, a few of them have seen Pete Winkelman, chairman and owner of Franchise FC, for what he is and realised it was always about the property deal and not about 'saving' Wimbledon FC. However, most of the customers either live in ignorance of the truth or choose to believe the web of fairytales he has spun from start. I'm sure most Wimbledon fans remember the 'biggest conurbation in Europe without a professional football team' lie (you didn't have to look outside England to find more than one at the time (2001), for example Dudley and Wakefield) and heaven only knows what fibs he told the FA Commission, because, as I've shown before, a man that registered the 'MK Dons' domain names in 2000 and then subsequently told the Commission he was an advocate for keeping the 'Wimbledon' name, was clearly not telling them the truth. So what has the weasel-worded one been up to now?

Have a read and you'll find it's the latest instalment in the ongoing property deal that caused him to go scouting for a football club to poach and destroy. He's looking to build a cinema complex, because he didn't get permission to build a casino. As per usual, a number of the dimwit customers have greeted the news with delight, thereby confirming, once again, that some people just don't learn from past mistakes. They are under the blissful misapprehension that this will mean good news for their football club. Extremely odd when you take even a moment to think about it, because the football club won't benefit from any income (it doesn't own the stadium or receive income from the associated businesses - hotel, fast food outlets, etc) and by providing competing entertainment venues (cinema and arena) it will further dilute the available spending locally and actually divert customers away from the football.

Let me pick out one particular quote from the story, because it's the one that you would have thought even Franchise customers could look at and realise they were being taken for mugs, particularly in these times of austerity:

"You could spend your whole weekend here!” joked Pete Winkelman, chairman of MK Dons and InterMK. “People can come down, watch the football, shop, then go out for dinner, go to the cinema and stay at the hotel."
So, let's see...

Football - £30 (or thereabouts)
Shopping - ?
Dinner - £25 per head if you're lucky (fast food crap is not 'dinner')
Cinema - £10 per head
Hotel - £50 a night, at least

The MK Citizen says he's 'joking', but he's the one laughing all the way to the bank of course. And while he's rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of yet more cash in his bank balance, some Franchise customers are acting as if he's done a civic service.

On a related note, and dripping with irony, is the move of the Milton Keynes basketball franchise to London.

The MK Lions had been promised use of the arena at Winkelman's stadium, but he reneged on that promise, as he did on so many promises he made to the Commission about Wimbledon FC. Some in MK are clearly not happy:

The supreme irony that yet another sports team has failed in Milton Keynes due to lack of support, should come as a slap in the face to all Franchise customers that so casually call Wimbledon fans 'deserters'. However, if they haven't been able to see through Winkelman after all these years, the full irony of the Lions failure in MK will also be lost on them. By their  reckoning, the town of Wimbledon failed to support its football team and deserved to lose it, so their own logic must hold that they are all responsible for failing to support the MK Lions and must be held accountable for its departure. Any sane and sensible person knows their logic was completely flawed in the first place, but those are the kind of impossible knots Franchise customers have tied themselves in by trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Will recent events mean a few more Franchise customers see the light? I doubt we'll see much evidence of it from the vociferous minority on the internet, but the continuingly poor attendance figures at Franchise and the complete absence of atmosphere, suggest there's still no great appetite for Winkelman's sorry franchise of a football club.

Edit to add: Just in case you thought I was overstating the case of how misguided and misinformed Franchise customers are, check this out:


I'll just quote a small extract:

"We're now in a position where we can say "we've got the biggest facility in the area and can host up to 5,000 guests and there's 300 hotel rooms on site if you need them". Nightmare scenario would be saying No to these companies because "we"ve got a Lions game on that night"."

We? This is supposedly a football fan (in reality a Franchise customer) talking about their football club, which doesn't own the stadium, or the arena attached to it, or get any income from it. WE?! Either this individual is involved with Winkelman's InterMK company (which would be an even bigger issue) or they are accidentally or deliberately trying to mislead others about where the income from the arena goes. This is just one small example of the illogical and nonsensical thinking afflicting Franchise customers.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A glorious year and an inglorious franchise

As the sun sets on a stupendous summer of sport and the dust settles on the tenth anniversary of the shameful FA Commission that allowed the creation of English football's first franchise in Milton Keynes, it's time to take stock. Much has changed in 10 years, but, crucially, certain key things remain the same - more of that later.

At a time when the nation is rightly revelling in sporting glory, the return of the football season has brought with it far too many painful reminders of how ugly the business of football can be. Football has brought us: obscene amounts of money spent on players, racism, rape charges, violence, bankruptcy... the long list of appalling bad examples emanating from football clubs and footballers just goes on and on, getting worse with each passing year. Next to some of these it makes the franchising of Wimbledon FC seem a relatively minor matter, but that perspective is something most Wimbledon fans have long since gained. It's not that what was done ranks alongside loss of life or compares to physical abuse, it's that despite 10 years of opportunities to do so, no one has ever apologised for what is still widely recognised by most football fans, even by some Franchise customers, as a great injustice.

And don't let the passage of time dim your memory as to the scale of the injustice we're talking about here. This from August 2001:


It should make for uncomfortable reading for any Franchise customers, even after 11 years. Look at how Henry Winter closed that piece:

"But if the burghers of Milton Keynes yearn for a high-profile team so badly, then they should start one themselves, just like Wimbledon once did, nurturing the club through the bad times and then up through the various divisions.
Yet, like Americans buying London Bridge, Milton Keynes prefer to go for a short-cut: they do not want to put in the hard graft and heartache of building up a club. But they should not be allowed to pinch the prized passion of Wimbledon fans."
Now, 11 years after that was written, Wimbledon has once again nurtured the club through the bad times and back to the Football League. And Milton Keynes? It has a football club one level lower than Wimbledon FC was in 2002 and getting no greater support than Wimbledon FC did in the 2001-2 season. And still not even the hint of an apology from any of the main culprits involved. (http://truthaboutfranchisefc.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/guilty-parties.html)

And what of the things that haven't changed in the last 10 years? No one has apologised, the stadium in Milton Keynes still isn't finished, the stadium won't be owned by the football club, the crowds are no better than Wimbledon FC was getting, Franchise FC continues to lose millions of £s and Milton Keynes still hasn't earned the right to have a Football League place.

That last point is an important one for Franchise customers to remember, because, like an athlete that has tested positive for drugs, the stigma of not deserving a Football League place will always be there, particularly while the absurd 'Dons' nicked-name remains as part of Franchise FC's team name. Some athletes come back from drug bans and are welcomed because they show contrition, apologise for their actions and compete cleanly, but no such behaviour has come from Franchise FC or its customer representatives, who instead do precisely the opposite and strut arrogantly around, flaunting Wimbledon's nickname, throwing derogatory terms at Wimbledon fans and still claiming we didn't deserve our club and that they did nothing wrong.

Wimbledon fans have moved on. It's time Franchise customers and their football club did too. Nothing Franchise FC achieves will be viewed any better than medals won by unapologetic dopers. The club owner and its customers could do something about that. Will they? Who knows... unlike some of the glorious sporting scenes of recent weeks, there's precious little sign of any fair play, bravery or desire to do the right thing coming from those involved with Franchise FC.