Wolves head coach Kenny Jackett believes the birth of Milton Keynes Dons was a case of supply meeting demand.
The Molineux men meet MK Dons – owned by Wolverhampton-born pop music multi-millionaire Pete Winkelman – for the first time tomorrow.
Like the televised visit of Crawley Town in August and Stevenage last month, it’s another ‘new’ opposition for Wolves.
But none have quite caused controversy like the ‘franchise club’ that spawned the MK Dons from Wimbledon, exporting them 60 miles north from their former home in south London.
Wimbledon relocated in September 2003, and by the following June had become MK Dons after the old club fell into administration They initially claimed Wimbledon’s history as their own but stopped doing so in 2007, partly to ensure the recognition of supporters’ groups such as the Football Supporters’ Federation, which had previously boycotted them.
Uprooting a football club was hugely controversial, even if Wimbledon’s poor crowds made it so difficult financially to maintain their status in the top two divisions.
Moving it to an area with a population now of 230,000 made economical sense.
And Jackett, whose home for many years in St Albans is only 32 miles from the designated New Town, believes the move made sense because Milton Keyes was desperate for a football club to support.
“Pete Winkelman picked it up and created a club where a big club was needed in that area,” said Jackett. “He’s done very well to establish the club in Milton Keynes and they’ve been unlucky on many occasions not to make it into the Championship.
“There are two issues – one is the badge and identity of Wimbledon and the second is forming and picking a team which can go into an area that needs it and has the right catchment area for the upper echelons of the football pyramid. They’ve also built a first-class ground in Milton Keynes.”
Wolves reporter Tim Nash gives his thoughts on the MK Dons game:
Jackett believes everyone is a winner with the formation of AFC Wimbledon.
“Wimbledon have recovered now and got back their Football League status,” he said.
And he believes MK Dons – currently 12th and nine points off the play-off zone – are well-placed for a promotion push in the second half of the season.
“They’ve consistently been a League One play-off team without it quite falling for them to get into the Championship which is a big frustration for them,” said Jackett.
“They’re well-placed for a second-half push to get into the top six. They’ve done well over the last few years without quite being able to make it up,” he said.
MK Dons are known as one of best passing sides in League One and Wolves haven’t always coped well against the purer footballing teams in the division.
After struggling to overcome Crawley and Swindon and losing to Walsall, Jackett is also convinced Wolves can cope better with the purists. “I’d say along with Swindon and Crawley they’re one of the most pure football teams at this level,” he said.
“We did very well against Colchester who are in that bracket of half a dozen teams.
“We’ve beaten both Crawley and Swindon, albeit from tough games and very good games. As the season has gone on I think we’ve improved ourselves in terms of the control of our game.”
“You have to always find a way of winning and a combination of players who can get those results on a regular basis.”