Winkleman 'not proud' of moving club

  • Last Updated: November 14 2012, 18:40 GMT

MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman understands it was not "the best idea in the world to move a football club".

Pete Winkelman: Thinks move may have been blessing in disguise

Winkelman was instrumental in Wimbledon FC moving to Milton Keynes in 2003, a move he insists was necessary to save the cash-strapped club.

With that relocation and subsequent change of name to MK Dons the following year, Wimbledon FC supporters who strongly opposed the move reacted by founding their own club - AFC Wimbledon - and entered the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League, the ninth tier in English football.

After almost a decade of animosity between the two sets of supporters, which has seen AFC Wimbledon climb the non-league pyramid and gain promotion to npower League Two, the clubs are set to clash for the first time next month in the FA Cup second round.

Ill-feeling in the AFC Wimbledon camp has already reared its head in anticipation of the tie with fans threatening to boycott the game at stadium:mk and chief executive Erik Samuelson has called for the Milton Keynes club to drop the word Dons from their name.

Winkelman admits he does have some regrets about the way the move came about but he is ultimately proud of what has been achieved.

"Today I stand here hugely proud of the home we have built for football in Milton Keynes," Winkelman told Press Association Sport. "But I am not proud of the way this club came to be, and that is very hard for me to live with.

"It might not have the been the best idea in the world to move a football club, and as the owner and chairman of a football club now, of course, I understand that.

"But the way people imagine how things happened is so different to the way it actually did.

"We did a deal with Norwegian billionaires and when they were going to move the club to Dublin, perhaps we mistakenly gave them Milton Keynes as an option because I naively thought that might be better.

"The administrator said 'I'm going to liquidate this football club tomorrow unless you come up with the money to keep it going'.

"The only way I could come up with the money to keep it going was to move it to Milton Keynes."

Despite his reservations, Winkelman admits the move may have been a blessing in disguise and that some good has actually come out of it - for both clubs.

"Whilst we might have had a controversial beginning, just look at what we have achieved over the last eight years," he said. "No other football club has this story, the story of Wimbledon FC.

"It's given birth to the most successful fan-owned club in the country and one of the biggest, brightest new football clubs in the country.

"I hope the rest of football can see that, and I hope people will see the amazing things which have come from Wimbledon FC, ie the two clubs - AFC Wimbledon and the Milton Keynes Dons.

"And it's not just us that have had success, look at what AFC Wimbledon have achieved. They will face us as a Football League club.

"There has been a lot of water under the bridge and this tie will hopefully enable us all to begin to look forward instead of back."

It was announced this evening that the tie will be shown live on television on Sunday, December 2.

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