The story of AFC Wimbledon
On May 28th 2002, an FA Commission granted permission for a group of businessmen to relocate Wimbledon FC Ltd to Milton Keynes, 70 miles from its history, home and community. Devastated fans mourned the death of their club, but before long they took a fresh approach by creating their own team.
Backed by the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association and The Dons Trust, with a combined membership approaching 3000, AFC Wimbledon was born. Just six weeks later, having obtained a ground, senior status, sponsorship and many hundreds of season ticket applications, AFC Wimbledon played its first game on Wednesday 10th July against Sutton united at Gander Green Lane (a game that saw a 4-0 defeat celebrated like a Cup Final win).
Except that for the fans this isn't the club's first ever game – it is a direct continuation of the old club that was formed as Wimbledon Old Centrals back in 1889. This view is backed by the ex-Wimbledon manager Terry Burton, sacked by Chairman Charles Koppel less than a week after the season ended, despite achieving a creditable league finish. "If that's where the fans are, that is where the club is", said Burton, "It's a great idea. It's great for football. It's a great achievement and everyone involved should be proud of AFC Wimbledon. I love to watch football. I loved Wimbledon, but this AFC
is closer to being my team."
That WFC Ltd could sack such a popular manager as Terry Burton shows just how deep the rift between the club and the supporters had grown. Such a rift will never be allowed to occur at AFC Wimbledon. Commercial Director Ivor Heller said "There is a strong belief that the vast majority of football owners have lost touch with their supporters. But, in the end, footballers come and go, so do managers and owners. All that remains are the fans and in the case of Wimbledon, we never left."