Wimbledon Football Club relocated to Milton Keynes in September 2003, 16 months after receiving permission to do so from an independent commission appointed by the Football Association. The move took the team from south London, where it had been based since its foundation in 1889, to Milton Keynes, a new town in Buckinghamshire, about 56 miles (90 km) to the northwest of the club's traditional home district Wimbledon. Hugely controversial, the move's authorisation prompted disaffected Wimbledon supporters to form AFC Wimbledon, a new club, in June 2002. The relocated team played home matches in Milton Keynes under the Wimbledon name from September 2003 until June 2004, when following the end of the 2003–04 season it renamed itself Milton Keynes Dons F.C. (MK Dons).

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  • Wimbledon Football Club relocated to Milton Keynes in September 2003, 16 months after receiving permission to do so from an independent commission appointed by the Football Association. The move took the team from south London, where it had been based since its foundation in 1889, to Milton Keynes, a new town in Buckinghamshire, about 56 miles (90 km) to the northwest of the club's traditional home district Wimbledon. Hugely controversial, the move's authorisation prompted disaffected Wimbledon supporters to form AFC Wimbledon, a new club, in June 2002. The relocated team played home matches in Milton Keynes under the Wimbledon name from September 2003 until June 2004, when following the end of the 2003–04 season it renamed itself Milton Keynes Dons F.C. (MK Dons). Wimbledon F.C. spent most of its history in non-League football before being elected to the Football League in 1977. A series of club owners believed that its long-term potential was limited by its home ground at Plough Lane, which never changed significantly from the team's non-League days. Meanwhile, the Milton Keynes Development Corporation envisaged a stadium in the town hosting top-flight football and was keen on the idea of an established League team relocating there. The Wimbledon chairman Ron Noades briefly explored moving Wimbledon to Milton Keynes in 1979, but decided it would not lead to larger crowds. Charlton Athletic briefly mooted a relocation in 1973, and in the 1980s the Milton Keynes Development Corporation offered a new ground to Luton Town, who almost became "MK Hatters". Wimbledon rose through the professional divisions unusually rapidly in what has been called a "fairytale", and by the end of the 1980s were playing at the top of the English game. In 1991, after the Taylor Report ordered the redevelopment of English football grounds, the team entered a groundshare at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park stadium, about 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Plough Lane. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement while the Wimbledon chairman Sam Hammam sought a new stadium site in south-west London, but this search proved frustratingly long, both for Hammam and the club's fans. Much to the anger of most Wimbledon supporters, Hammam proposed new locations for the team outside London, including the Irish capital Dublin. He sold the club to two Norwegian businessmen, Kjell Inge Røkke and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, in 1997 and the following year sold Plough Lane for a supermarket redevelopment. Starting in 2000 a consortium led by Pete Winkelman proposed a large retail development in Milton Keynes including a Football League-standard stadium, and offered this site to Luton, Wimbledon, Barnet, Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers. Røkke and Gjelsten appointed a new chairman, Charles Koppel, who announced on 2 August 2001 that Wimbledon intended to relocate to Milton Keynes. Koppel said the club would otherwise go out of business. After the League refused permission, Koppel launched an appeal, leading to an FA arbitration hearing and subsequently the appointment of a three-man independent commission by the FA in May 2002 to make a final and binding verdict. The League and FA stated opposition but the commissioners ruled in favour, two to one. The vast majority of the team's fans switched allegiance to AFC Wimbledon in protest. Wimbledon F.C.'s relocation was delayed for over a year by the lack of an interim ground in Milton Keynes meeting Football League standards. In June 2003 the club went into administration; Winkelman's consortium injected funds to keep it operating and paid for the renovation of the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes, where the team played its first match in September 2003. Winkelman's Inter MK Group bought the relocated club in 2004 and concurrently changed its name, badge and colours. The team's new ground, Stadium mk, opened three years later. MK Dons initially claimed Wimbledon F.C.'s heritage and history, but renounced this in 2007. AFC Wimbledon received planning permission for a new ground on Plough Lane in 2015. (en)
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  • Locations of Plough Lane, Selhurst Park and Milton Keynes
  • Geographical distribution of the 92 clubs in the Football League during the 1967–68 season, and Milton Keynes '. Many teams are concentrated in urban areas such as London '.
  • Wimbledon moved about across south London, from Plough Lane to Selhurst Park, before the 1991–92 season. This move was supposed to be temporary while the club arranged a new stadium of its own on a more local site.
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  • Wimbledon Football Club relocated to Milton Keynes in September 2003, 16 months after receiving permission to do so from an independent commission appointed by the Football Association. The move took the team from south London, where it had been based since its foundation in 1889, to Milton Keynes, a new town in Buckinghamshire, about 56 miles (90 km) to the northwest of the club's traditional home district Wimbledon. Hugely controversial, the move's authorisation prompted disaffected Wimbledon supporters to form AFC Wimbledon, a new club, in June 2002. The relocated team played home matches in Milton Keynes under the Wimbledon name from September 2003 until June 2004, when following the end of the 2003–04 season it renamed itself Milton Keynes Dons F.C. (MK Dons). (en)
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  • Relocation of Wimbledon F.C. to Milton Keynes (en)
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