April 24, 2018

Horse 2403 - MK **** - A **** By Any Other Name Would Still Smell As ****

AFC Wimbledon have been charged with a breach of English Football League regulations following their home match against MK Dons on 22 September.
Wimbledon referred to the away side as Milton Keynes or MK, and did not mention them on their programme cover.
The south-west London club are accused of 'breaching Regulation 3' of the EFL's rules, which say no member should "unfairly criticise, disparage, belittle or discredit" any other club in the league.
Wimbledon had also failed to recognise the MK Dons' name in their very first league meeting at Kingsmeadow, which took place in March this year.
- BBC News 20th Dec 2017.

In December 2017, AFC Wimbledon were charged by the EFL with a breach of Regulations 3.4 and 3.5 and conduct amounting to misconduct, in respect of its actions towards Milton Keynes Dons.
The charge arose from the League One meeting of the two Clubs at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on 22 September 2017, when the home Club was alleged to have not referred to Milton Keynes Dons in an appropriate manner. 
- English Football League, 17th Apr 2018.

The English Football League decided to press disciplinary action against League One side AFC Wimbledon following their match against the scum franchise currently plying its trade in Milton Keynes after both the scoreboard at the ground and the official match program did what I've just demonstrated and did not referred to the latter club by its proper name, back in September of last year.
I have been following this story with interest because both The Football League and MK have acted appallingly in my heavily biased and not very well thought out opinion.

Given that the only reason that this abomination of a football club exists was because the then management stole the club away from south west London to quite literally the most non descript town in the universe, let alone England, with the approval and blessing of the Football League no less, then what kind of terms would they like AFC Wimbledon to refer to them as? Because the appropriate terms which AFC Wimbledon should refer to the franchise currently plying its trade in Milton Keynes include the words ****, ****, ***** and ****. Please insert whatever words your filthy, grotty mind can come up with because even then it still wouldn't be enough.
Milton Keynes **** (the word "Dons" has been replaced here because they have no right to it) is the result of a management decision in 2002 to rip the football club out of South London, where it had been since 1889 and move it to a city in Buckinghamshire, some 59 miles away; which from personal experience, is lifeless and soulless.
Forget spending billions of dollarpounds on a mission to Mars to look at a cold dead rock, simply book a train to Milton Keynes and you can achieve the exact same result.

So why the fuss at all? Football after it is all said and done is only a game, with 22 players, green grass and a football. Of itself, it doesn't really have much empirical value. Football and indeed all sports and games, are entertainment which helps to distract us from the march of time and the inevitable slow walk towards the grave.
Humans are very efficient pattern recognition machines. If you collect enough patterns together, you start to build stories. If you collect stories together, you start to build narrative. If you collect narrative and stories together in a giant collective, you start to build community. A football club is the collective product of a community and if there is anything to be bought and sold, then it is the willingness of people to buy into the grand story which built the community. The story and community which had been written around the old Wimbledon FC was one which had taken 113 years to write.
The only issue with moving Wimbledon FC from south London to Milton Keynes is that although you can move a business, you can not move a community which is very much tied to its sense of place. It doesn't matter that management retained the colours and the name Dons, the thing which could not be bought or sold was that community.

The story of AFC Wimbledon is therefore pretty obvious. After having their football team stolen and sold out from underneath them, the fans reacted by holding trials on Wimbledon Common and out of the ashes of the old story, they began to tell a new one. The story of AFC Wimbledon and their rise through the ranks of the Football Conference, is a glorious one and legend was sealed when Seb Brown saved two penalties against Luton Town FC in 2011, to secure promotion in the playoffs, to the Football League proper.
The story of AFC Wimbledon is the story of a community, rebuilding what had been taken away from them and the return to the model of a football club for its fans and owned by its fans. The team which was moved and which is referred to as "the franchise currently plying its trade in Milton Keynes" for good reason, has always been resented by the community which has built itself out of the ashes and hence the reason why when the two team played south London, the match program did not name the MK **** the scoreboard did not them either. I've found it interesting to hear on BBC Southern Counties Radio, chants of "Where were you when you were us?" being sung by AFC Wimbledon fans. Football crowds aren't known for their manners at the best of times but sometimes there have been some exceptionally poignant truths to come out of a many thousand voiced choir at one end of a football ground. In this case, this speaks right to the heart of the issue at hand. If a football club is the result of many stories which are built into a community, then what right does a bunch of monied people have to take that away? You can buy a team but you can not buy the community.

When I heard about the Football League reprimanding AFC Wimbledon for not referring to the franchise currently plying its trade in Milton Keynes in their official match program and the scoreboard, my brain blew a 15 amp fuse. I find it simply galling that the Football League, which as the overarching organisation which only derives any sense of legitimacy from the collective of the collective narratives, should side with the franchise in this. I mean, part of the anger is directed at the Football League who oversaw the ripping out of the team from south London to that cold dead rock in the middle of nowhere. To then reprimand AFC Wimbledon for daring to protest the obvious abhorrence of playing against something which shouldn't even by rights exist, is terrible.

In advance of the formal proceedings commencing, the EFL has been in communication with both Clubs and, as a result of the positive dialogue, a decision has been taken to drop the charges against AFC Wimbledon on the proviso that all parties will now enter into discussions using their best endeavours to seek to reach an agreed position between the parties for the future. The decision has been supported by Milton Keynes Dons and The Dons Trust Board. 
- English Football League, 17th Apr 2018.

The only position which I would find acceptable if I was a member of The Dons Trust Board, would be if MK drops the name "Dons", which they have no right to. Furthermore, I think that referring to the franchise as MK and nothing more, was on balance the most respectful thing that could have been done given the circumstances; especially when you consider that the town is already locally abbreviated to as "MK".
Retaining the name "Dons" is a reminder of a past which should have never have happened, a reminder of the corporate decision to rip the club from Wimbledon to Milton Keynes, and is stupid considering that the franchise has no connection with the people of Wimbledon or the suburb any more. 
I am glad that the Football League did the obvious thing. I hope that MK **** does likewise.

MK **** being relegated and AFC Wimbledon staying up is both a win for the good of the game and for justice in general.

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