AFC Wimbledon, formed by fans just 9 years ago when Wimbledon F.C. relocated to Milton Keynes as the rebranded MK Dons, achieved promotion to the Football League with last Saturday’s victory on penalties over Luton Town. It’s a staggering achievement given the new club’s humble early days in the Combined Counties League, though When Saturday Comes’ Shane Simpson warns, any inference this triumph brings “closure” to those deeply hurt by Wimbledon F.C. taking a page out of the Art Modell playbook,“is to miss the point. ”
While AFC Wimbledon made no secret of their desire to return to the League at the earliest opportunity, the relocation to Milton Keynes and the enduring enmity felt towards those who benefited from it has always been, and remains, another matter entirely. That one community should enjoy League football at the expense of another, not having earned it through endeavour on the pitch but through machinations off it, persists in being an affront to many.
That the supposed guardians of the game, in the form of the spineless Football League and the infamous three-man FA commission, were complicit in this wrongdoing merely adds insult to injury. What was wrong in 2002 remains wrong in 2011 and those who suggest that moral indignation should have an expiry date are, at best, naive.
Moreover, by waiving the rules regarding teams representing the conurbation from which they take their name – not to mention allowing a town to bypass the established football pyramid system – dangerous precedents have been set. Those who set any store by the football authorities’ assurances that such a scenario would never be allowed to occur again need only look to see how they have enforced their stipulations that the relocated club maintain their links to the old Wimbledon community to see what such words are worth. To lay to rest the ghost of Wimbledon FC is to risk this same injustice happening to another club and its supporters.