It's MK Day for Wimbledon Football Club

Last updated : 21 January 2002 By Tony Scholes

The Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel say the club have no option and this arbitration follows the Football League's refusal to allow it back in August of last year.

Koppel said, "We have to look at the fact that there is nowhere in the borough of Merton for us to go back to. We are very fortunate that Milton Keynes did emerge and came to us, because without that there is nothing else for us. If Plough Lane was a realistic option to be delivered, everyone would want the club to go back there.

"We want to take Milton Keynes forward because it is the only option open to the club. We want Wimbledon Football Club to have a future and unless we find a solution then the opportunity for Wimbledon to exist in the future is in severe doubt."

Yes, Milton Keynes approached them and Koppel's eyes lit up at the idea of making a fast buck from the club he and his colleagues have openly admitted they regret buying from the Terrorist Sam Hammam. Isn't it funny how everyone else, including Merton council and the Clarets supporting mayor, see a return to Plough Lane as a more than realistic option.

One major worry today is the fact that the York City chairman is believed to be sitting on the panel, surely not when you see what is going on up there at the moment.

Thankfully not everyone agrees with Koppel, in fact let's hope that not many do. In our article on the situation last week we said that if they were allowed to do this then it would open it up for any club to do it. I even suggested that Barry Kilby could move the Clarets out of Burnley if he so wished but did add that I didn't think for one minute that Barry would ever even consider it.

The Clarets chairman responded to it in his article in the programme for the Sheffield Wednesday game last Saturday saying,

"Selhurst Park on a drab, January day presented a forlorn and miserable picture. The pitch was in a state that prohibited any form of a decent passing game, played against a backdrop of a ground less than a quarter full.

"A further negative effect on the game was caused by the obvious unrest amongst the Wimbledon fans, whose focus was not 100 per cent on the game.

"Foremost in their minds was the effort by the Wimbledon Board of Directors to move the Club to Milton Keynes, some eighty miles away from the club's home borough in south London.

"Although the Wimbledon owners would argue that this move is necessary for the Club to survive, our view at Burnley Football Club is that this type of American franchising cannot be allowed into the English game.

"Can you imagine the Burnley Board of Directors deciding to 'move' the Club to some football starved conurbation in the south-east, where the commercial prospects were much brighter?

"Football League clubs should represent the communities that they come from, regardless of whether they are large in numbers or affluent in economic terms.

"The minute we lose that link is the moment when this passionate sport of ours crosses the line into becoming a meaningless arm of light entertainment."

We can only hope that those on the arbitration panel have as much consideration for the game as our chairman clearly does and that Koppel is told in no uncertain terms that he cannot move the club to Milton Keynes.