“Not in the wider interests of football”

Greg Dyke B Team proposal entirely without merit say AFC Wimbledon owners.

The Wimbledon supporters body today reminds the FA they are supposed to represent the interests of all members, not just a few Premier League brands.


DT logoAs the elected representatives of the custodians and owners of Wimbledon’s Football Club, the Dons Trust board were dismayed to read the report of FA Chairman Greg Dyke’s England Commission. These plans appear to be seriously entertaining the idea of parachuting a new tier of league football into the existing pyramid – including B teams of Premier League clubs that consider themselves overburdened with young players who aren’t playing enough games.

We suspect that no clubs’ fans have seen their team play at as many levels of the game in as short a time as Wimbledon fans. From leaving the Premiership at the Dell in June 2000 to re-joining the Football League in 2011 via the Combined Counties League, the Isthmian League and the Conference, Wimbledon have played in every tier from first to ninth of the league pyramid except League One in this century.

One of the reasons that Wimbledon fans received so much solidarity from fans of other clubs when our league place was awarded to Milton Keynes by a three-man commission in 2002 was because it so crudely compromised the integrity of the league pyramid structure. Until 2002 no town or club had been awarded a league place off the pitch, every promotion had been won on the merits of what a club’s players achieved.

Throughout our journey to reclaim our league place, Dons Trust board members met supporters, chairmen, committee men and women and owners at over a hundred non-league clubs. Despite the controversial circumstances of our rebirth, we and other Wimbledon supporters very much enjoyed this journey. We met many amazing people who have dedicated much of their lives to sustaining football clubs in their communities.

In 2002 the FA Commission that awarded Wimbledon FC’s league place to Milton Keynes actually told Wimbledon fans not to bother restarting, telling us it would not be “in the wider interests of football.” We proved them wrong many times over. But this proposal to abolish the very founding tenets of the English league structure on a vague promise it might improve the fortunes of the national team is most certainly not in the wider interests of football. It lazilycherry picks elements from other countries’ systems that just so happen to serve the narrow interests of an elite group of largely Premier League clubs.

The FA has a responsibility to represent and protect its members at all levels of the game. This proposal has been dreamed up without any serious engagement with supporters or even with the Football Conference. Our representative organisations – Supporters Direct and The Football Supporters Federation – were not spoken to or invited to discuss the issues with the commission. This arrogant approach has rightly angered many thousands of football supporters. This proposal as it currently stands is an insult to each and every single club below Championship level and to the hundreds of thousands of fans around the country who watch their local teams across the season.

The FA abdicated its responsibilities in 2002 when it sanctioned the franchising of a single club to Milton Keynes. If it pushes ahead with this proposal it will have abdicated its responsibilities to all its members, bar the largest Premier League clubs. The B team proposal is entirely without merit. While we have concerns about other parts of the report – the Strategic Loan Partnerships look to us like feeder clubs by the back door – we believe that the B team proposal brings the entire report into disrepute. We will be happy to engage in a genuine consultation once the report has been withdrawn.

The Board of the Dons Trust – owners of AFC Wimbledon