Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The ugly truth about Pete Winkelman

Last week, in the run-up to a highly emotional and potentially explosive 2nd Round FA Cup tie between Franchise FC and Wimbledon, Pete Winkelman, chairman and owner of Franchise, made extremely provocative accusations in the press about Wimbledon fans deserting their club and not buying it out of administration. The problem? None of it was true.

Here are just some of the stories, based on interviews and press releases from Winkelman, all of which contain the same deliberate goading and provocation of Wimbledon fans:





There are more examples, virtually every newspaper and football website ran the story, some of them without even questioning Winkelman's claims. As you can see from the links above, both David Conn and Mihir Bose looked deeper and questioned both the accuracy and the wisdom of Winkelman's claims - why seek to antagonise and provoke Wimbledon fans in the build-up to such a sensitive match? Was Winkelman trying to set the record straight in his moment in the spotlight? No. What Winkelman was doing was trying to re-write history in a quite shameless attempt to disguise his own guilt and to blame Wimbledon fans who were doing nothing more than trying to save their football club. The truth is revealed by comparing the actual facts to Winkelman's completely inaccurate version...


6th June 2003 - Wimbledon FC Ltd enters administration - administrators speak to the press and state that Milton Keynes is the only option for the club.




The quotes from the administrators are unequivocal:

"Whilst not welcomed by many, it is becoming increasingly clear that a move to Milton Keynes is a key element in ensuring that the club has the facilities commensurate with its ambitions."

"We and the directors believe, with the enthusiasm shown in Milton Keynes and the dedicated efforts of the club's staff, we will in due course see a successful outcome."

"Hopefully we will be able to rescue the club and have a successful relocation to Milton Keynes."

There is no suggestion of keeping the club in London and there is no offer made for the fans to buy the club. They are only looking at Milton Keynes.

10th July 2003 (5 weeks into administraion) - this article appears in the Daily Telegraph:


Its damning contents put the lie to everything Winkelman told the press last week:

"The irony is that by now Wimbledon could have been saved. I understand that there was an 11-hour meeting at the administrators' offices in Euston 10 days ago to discuss a rescue plan put together by Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel."

...10 days before the article, little more than 3 weeks into the administration...

"Present at the meeting were John Cove, Milton Keynes Council's head of community and economic development, and Peter Winkleman, the music promoter whose idea it has been to take Wimbledon from south London to Milton Keynes."

...Winkelman claimed he did nothing for 7weeks! Yet little more than 3 weeks in he is meeting with the administrators. It gets worse...

"Everything seemed to be going well until Winkleman spoke. He has a 25 per cent stake in Wimbledon's Milton Keynes project, but said he wanted 51 per cent. He was also upset that, under the Koppel plan, Wimbledon would initially ground share with Watford or Northampton, only moving when the development was completed. Winkleman said Milton Keynes was tired of waiting for its football and the club must move immediately, even to a temporary ground."

...not only is Winkelman meeting with the administrators but he is already demanding more of a stake in the club and blocking any suggestions of delaying the move to MK further. And it gets worse still...

"He has also given the administrators just over £300,000, which was used this week to pay the June wages of the players - May's wages remain unpaid. This gives Winkleman an inside track with the administrators."

 ...only 5 weeks into the administration he has already given the administrators £300,000 - how is that "doing nothing"? And how can he possibly have forgotten his position at the time, as quoted...

"Winkleman refuses to discus details but said: "We are at the beginning of the process that everybody wants. The end of the road must be Milton Keynes. Technically, the club is dead. I don't want to give false hopes but you can't keep Milton Keynes waiting for its football.""

...he is already stating that the end of the process must be Milton Keynes, yet just last week he expresses his surprise that the fans didn't try to buy the club.

There are only two possible conclusions to the evidence - either Winkelman knowingly lied in an attempt to provoke Wimbledon fans or his memory of events is so completely inaccurate that he needs sitting down and reminding step-by-step of what he actually did.

Before anyone gives Winkelman the benefit of the doubt and presumes he's just misremembering, remember who accompanied him to the meeting with the administrators just 3 weeks into administration? It was then MK Council employee John Cove - the very same John Cove who is now Chief Executive of Milton Keynes Dons Football Club Sport and Education Trust and works closely with Pete Winkelman. Surely John would have had a word with his boss to inform him of his mistakes before he repeated them to every single media outlet in the country? Apparently not.

And now let's return to the subject of why Winkelman made these accusations against Wimbledon fans last week. The suggestion that he did nothing for the first seven weeks of administration had never been made until last week - Winkelman had allowed 9 years to pass without so much as a hint of it, but with days to go to a potentially explosive and guaranteed to be tense first encounter between Franchise and Wimbledon, he drops an apparent bombshell into the media, knowing full well that either they wouldn't check or couldn't find the evidence that what he was saying was completely untrue.

If Winkelman claims his memory was failing him, then why did John Cove not correct him? Are they both suffering from the same tragic amnesia?

If Winkelman knew what he was saying was untrue, then why was he deliberately seeking to antagonise and goad Wimbledon fans in the run-up to the fixture?

Whatever answer you come up with to those two questions, Winkelman is unfit to be the chariman of a football club when he was prepared to risk the safety of thousands of innocent football fans just to wage his own petty vendetta against the Wimbledon fans who he wronged by trying and succeeding to take away our football club.

It is an absolute disgrace that Winkelman's comments last week, now proven to be utterly without foundation and wholly untrue, go unapologised for. At the very least he should be offering a full apology to all Wimbledon fans for making completely false statements about us, and if he is so incapable of remembering the truth or stopping himself from spreading these lies, he should seriously consider his position as chairman of Franchise FC.