Why the conflict between MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon must be resolved

History between the two clubs

Whenever Milton Keynes Dons play AFC Wimbledon, as will happen on Saturday at noon, it is difficult to ignore the history between the two clubs. Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) explores the situation and how we can begin to find a resolution to a very dangerous conflict.

To read our match preview for this game click here

The history

In 2003, Pete Winkelman completed a deal to move Wimbledon FC, known as The Dons, 67 miles away to Milton Keynes and name the club Milton Keynes Dons – the move was wrongly sanctioned by the FA.

Supporters of Wimbledon responded by building a new football club – maintaining the fans, heart and spirit of the original – named AFC Wimbledon.

It took the phoenix club just nine years to get back into the Football League (now EFL) following reformation – and only 13 years to reach the same division as MK.

AFC Wimbledon’s rise is a wonderful story: it shows what be achieved through togetherness, people power and staying true to one’s own beliefs.

MK Dons do some good

While AFCW are undoubtedly the heroes of this story, that does not necessarily mean that what MK Dons did back in 2003 dictates the type of club they are now.

Currently, the club do a lot for their local community, they has a Sport and Education Trust that aims to assist the education of young people and encourages them to channel their energy through exercise.

They help the homeless, they help the disabled – and there are many people in Milton Keynes who benefit hugely from having a local football club.

The attack on Russ Martin

One person who believes strongly in the importance of helping the community is MK defender Russell Martin, whose family including children were reportedly abused outside Kingsmeadow, after August’s EFL Cup tie.

In this case, it seems as though as hoped, Russell and his family were relatively unharmed by the alleged incident – and that there were no further incidents of violence.

We can condemn the culprit in question, yet that will not prevent the same type of incident from happening again: more importantly, we must consider the consequences of the toxic relationship between AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons.

Changing the relationship

If anyone is pre-conditioned to feel that a certain organisation is ethically deplorable, then they are more inclined to feel detestation towards anyone associated and thus act in a vicious way.

For that reason, both parties have a responsibility to change the relationship over the next few decades – and the first step is to initiate more constructive dialogue.

There are MK fans out there who began following the club from a young age, when not fully mindful of the details of the club’s existence – they have privately voiced regret for how it has impacted Wimbledon fans but still have affection for their club because it is what they have grown up with.

If MK fans were to open up on those types of stances more, the two parties would find it easier to initiate progressive and meaningful discourse.

The problem is that MK fans often feel directly threatened by AFC Wimbledon supporters; they are therefore likely to engage in a way that is tribal, rather than express their true feelings.

mk dons flag vs wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon flags during a match against MK Dons

The Dons name

The above matters feed into the issue of the ‘Dons’ nickname, which Wimbledon fans feel needs to be dropped by Milton Keynes for any sort of truce to take place.

The irony is that the more Wimbledon fans make derogatory comments towards MK, the more inclined they feel to use the ‘Dons’ name as a weapon to hurt them – thus we have a vicious cycle of hatred.

And yet, in many ways, Wimbledon do not need Milton Keynes to drop the ‘Dons’ name for AFCW as a club to be vindicated: that has already happened.

Wimbledon are going back to their spiritual home of Plough Lane in 2020, they have a professional football club in the EFL that represents the spirit of the original club – from their point of view, the battle has long been won.

It stands to reason, therefore, that Milton Keynes should be able to keep the ‘Dons’ as part of their name – but on the condition that it refers to the club in Buckinghamshire and that it is agreed they do not represent a continuation of Wimbledon FC.

Finding a solution

Conversely, MK Dons should acknowledge that what happened in 2003 should never be allowed to happen again in English football – chairman Pete Winkelman has admitted that it was not a good idea, but there needs to be a more respectful recognition of the matter from the club and supporters collectively.

This does not mean AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons have to become friends or even change the way they feel about the situation.

However, the assault on Martin last August shows that, somewhere, there needs to be a line drawn in terms of what is and is not acceptable – otherwise, any future meetings between the clubs, including Saturday’s clash, could lead to more violence.

As hard as it might be, both sides must begin to look for a resolution to the conflict – or risk potentially fatal consequences.


Bet £5 & Get £20 FREE BETS! 😍
NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY. FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY. ODDS OF 1/1 OR GREATER. 2 X £10 BET TOKENS. FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS. FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE. NO FREE BET EXPIRY. ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS. FURTHER T&CS APPLY. 18+. BEGAMBLEAWARE.ORG
Claim Bonus
🟠 £40 Welcome Bonus! 🟠
18+/New depositing customers on STSbet.co.uk only/11.02.20 - until further notice/First deposit min. £10/Qualifying accumulator bet with min. stake of £10 and min. 2 selections with min. odds of 1/2 (1.50) per selection/Bonus: 50% of the stake of the qualifying bet/Max bonus £40, credited once the qualifying bet has settled/Bonus wagering requirements: x6 on min. odds of 1/2 (1.50) as a single bet, or 1/2 (1.50) per selection as part of an accumulator bet. Bonus valid for any sports, for 7 days. Deposit method restrictions apply./ Full T&Cs apply/ BeGambleAware.org
Claim Bonus
🔥 BET £20 & GET £40 IN FREE BETS! 🔥
New users only. Min deposit £20. Place qualifying bets of £20 in first 7 days after deposit to unlock free bets. Free bets rewarded as 4 equal free bets that total £40. Min odds 1/1, 3+ legs & expire in 7 days. Winnings credited in cash. Full T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
♦️ Bet £15 & Get £15 FREE BET + 2 x £5.50 tickets to our Poker Tournaments! ♦️
18+ | New UK and Ireland customers only | Min £/€15 deposit get max 2 x £5.50 tickets to FootyAccums Poker League | Bet min £/€15 on sports and get £/€15 free sports bet, minimum odds must be 2.0 | Tickets credited automatically after eligible first deposit | Tickets expire in 30 days | Free bet valid for 7 days, stake not returned | T&C’s apply | BeGambleAware.org
Claim Bonus

🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🔴 Bet £10, Get £20 in free bets! 🔴
New members. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of E/W bets. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: accept in 7 days, valid for 7 days from acceptance (ex. E/Ws & Multiples), stakes not returned. Click here for Rules & Exclusions. Bet Responsibly. BeGambleAware.org. 18+
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
New Customers only. Up to £100* in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5* or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.
Claim Bonus
✅ BET £20 AND GET YOUR MONEY BACK IN CASH IF IT LOSES! ✅
New customers only. Deposit £20 using Debit Card or Trustly. Up to your first £20 of losses will be refunded as CASH within 24 hours of qualifying bet having been settled. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Betfair account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
📲 MOBILE OFFER - BET £10 & GET £40 IN FREE BETS!!!!
Sign-up via Mobile using promo code N40 and place a bet of £10/€10 or more and we will give you 4x £10/€10 free bets. By entering the Promo code in the box above you agree to the full terms and conditions of this promotion as displayed below. See full terms below. 18+.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £10 & Get £20 in Bonuses 🌟
18+ New Customers only. Deposit, opt in and place a £10 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive a £10 Free Sports Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days.  Plus a £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw a max of £250. T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly.
Claim Bonus
BET £10 & GET A £10 FREE BET! 💪
New UK customers only. £10 Min Deposit. 100% matched free bet on your first deposit of £10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bets. Debit Card deposits only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. Full Terms apply. 18+. BeGambleAware.org. Bet The Responsible Way.
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.