Sunday, 5 November 2017

Defined by a pub team

A recent storm in a teacup for Franchise customers over their internet forum has reminded me of just how completely they remain defined by Wimbledon – hence 'defined by a pub team', because that's how they started out deriding us 15 years ago. Does it matter? Not if you're a Wimbledon fan, it's extremely amusing to watch, but if you're a Franchise customer it clearly throws up a lot of conflict. Devil's in the detail, so I'll expound…

The event that prompted me was the abrupt closure of the main internet forum for Franchise customers, amid bitter recriminations, tantrums and flouncing off – the usual. Within a couple of days a new forum had popped up, called… sitdownorwellstealyourclub. I kid you not, their forum glories in the stealing of Wimbledon's football club, reinforced by then calling itself “AFC The Concrete Roundabout”, again referencing AFC Wimbledon. This from a customer base that we're supposed to believe is sick of the grief they get about Milton Keynes stealing away Wimbledon's Football League place. They protest about that constantly – that it's not their fault – yet they then perpetuate it through their own forum. Bizarre behaviour? Of course.

The elephant in the room is, naturally, the 'Dons' nicked-name in the Franchise team name. While that remains, how can they be anything but a bad Wimbledon tribute act? As much explored on this blog, nether side is a “legal continuation” of Wimbledon FC, but AFC Wimbledon is building a ground on Plough Lane, is called Wimbledon, is followed by 99% of WFC's fans, plays in Wimbledon's colours, uses the Wimbledon badge… etc, etc… it's tedious now, there's been no doubt about who the real Wimbledon is for more than a decade. And Franchise? What do they have that makes their tribute act worth watching? 'Dons'. That's it. If you paid £20 to watch a Wimbledon tribute act, you'd be pretty pissed off to find the extent of the tribute was one nicked-name and a clapped-out ginger left-back on the bench. It's like a tribute band calling themselves MK Zep and claiming they're the real Led Zep based on a session player who played two notes on an album track once.

Don't be confused, I'm not highlighting this to enhance AFC Wimbledon's claims of continuation – I don't need to. One either believes a football club is more than just the legal entity that controls it, or one doesn't. Demonstrating the ludicrousness of Franchise's claim does not change the validity or strength of AFC Wimbledon's claim. Think on this though; the audience for a band know who they're turning up for and 99% of Wimbledon fans pre-2002 (not to mention ex-players) go to AFC Wimbledon – working out who the real Wimbledon are isn't rocket science.

Back to Franchise FC being defined by a pub team… It's almost entirely self-inflicted by them now. We've got all the big events out of the way at this point – played them, beaten them, risen above them in the league, etc – and very little gets said about them any more, everyone happy just ignoring their existence for the most part, quite literally. The oxygen for the fire now all comes from them – it's a bizarre exercise in self harm. The only reason the media now still bring things up is because they're clinging on to the 'Dons' nicked-name and because they keep squealing in protest every time the subject of Wimbledon comes up. If the 'Dons' nicked-name were gone, a meeting between Milton Keynes and Wimbledon would stir up about as much interest as Northampton Town vs Brentford.

And a small peek into the desperate mindset that some customers have got themselves into – they used a quote from a recent Guardian article, “The FA Commission recommended that the club should always retain a link with its former identity”, as justification for maintaining the 'Dons' nicked-name. It would have some justification if it weren't for the fact that the FAC actually said this (with my notes interspersed in { }):

“112. However, we recommend that the Football League agrees to measures with WFC and MKSC to ensure that it retains the essential identity of WFC and also ensures that WFC takes reasonable steps to help WFC fans travel and watch WFC in Milton Keynes. Mr Winkelman was also, whilst understandably excited about the prospects for Milton Keynes, enthusiastic about retaining WFC’s identity and image. We believe that it can be fairly stated that finding WFC a home in Milton Keynes will add considerable value to a large community starved of First Division Football, whilst at the same time that community (70% of whom are from London) will add value to WFC.

{note this includes the MKSC and Winkelman, so the later club ownership change should not have impacted on Winkelman's 'enthusiasm' for retaining all this WFC stuff – he'd already promised it}

113. These measures would cover, in no particular order, and without being prescriptive, (and these are essentially matters for the Football League rather than ourselves) matters relating to:
Continuity of:
· Club name and nickname {one gone, one incorporated in team name}
· Club logo {gone}
· Club colours {gone}
· Club playing strip and other merchandise {gone}
· Players {gone, as players do!}
· Staff {all gone}
· Shareholders {all gone}
· Directors {all gone}
· Academy {gone}
· Community schemes {all gone}
· Club website(s) {gone}
· Club shop in Wimbledon; {gone}

{It's already a mockery, but it gets worse. Remember, they're claiming 'Dons' fulfils the Commissions recommendations!}

Subsidised/free travel to matches between Wimbledon and Milton Keynes (we are told that trains can be chartered by the Club: the journey time is approximately one hour);
{never happened, not even once}

Discounted tickets for existing fans at the new stadium in Milton Keynes;
{never happened, not for anyone}

A ticket outlet in Merton;
{never happened}

Continued communication with existing fans;
{never happened}

Local press (Merton) coverage of WFC and its results;
{mad to suggest it, impossible to make it happen}

Promotional material regarding maintenance of identity as WFC;
{never happened}

Club museum at the new stadium in Milton Keynes;
{never happened}

Stadium branding at the new stadium in Milton Keynes; and
{never happened}

Re-naming of local areas/streets in Milton Keynes to associate with WFC.
{never happened}

114. We consider these measures vital to ensuring WFC’s identity and they should be agreed to and put in place as soon as possible. The Football League will then be able to monitor and approve the process of maintaining links.”

The Commission considered those measures vital and that they should have been put in place as soon as possible, but nothing was ever done about ANY of it. Now think again on how the Franchise customers think clinging to the 'Dons' nicked-name (quite literally the ONLY remaining link between the Milton Keynes club and Wimbledon FC) is somehow justifiable or in any way meets the criteria set out by the Commission. Ludicrous.

And yet… they won't let it go. For whatever stubborn, irrational or hate-fuelled reasons they have, they insist on keeping 'Dons' and on having their club's entire existence defined by… Wimbledon, by us, by whatever thread we feel like tugging on next to get them foaming at the mouth. It's certainly justification for all those who want Franchise saddled forever with the 'Dons' nicked-name, but only extreme masochism explains why Franchise customers think it's a good idea.