Samuelson criticises MK cup motives
AFC Wimbledon chief executive Erik Samuelson believes MK Dons are using Sunday's FA Cup tie between the two clubs as a publicity stunt to try to justify the "hijacking" of Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes.
In 2003 Wimbledon FC, FA Cup winners in 1988, were uprooted from south west London and moved over 50 miles north of the capital to the Buckinghamshire town. The club was renamed MK Dons the following year.
While there were financial reasons for the unprecedented move of an English club away from its home town, angry Wimbledon FC fans vowed to save the club's history and formed AFC Wimbledon from scratch in the Combined Counties League.
After five promotions in eight years, AFC Wimbledon, a club owned by a fans' trust, are now back in the Football League, just one division below npower League One promotion challengers MK Dons.
Ahead of the game at stadium:mk, Samuelson told the club's official website: "For our opponents, it is a wonderful opportunity to present themselves to the world as the wronged ones, a club which offers the hand of reconciliation and is wounded when rejected.
"It is an opportunity to issue statements of mild regret about `what happened', carefully crafted by PR specialists, and a re-imagining of history that leaves me almost incredulous at its cheek, until you think of the audacity of presenting the hijacking of another club 60 miles up the M1 as having saved it.
"But this opportunity for them is a problem for us. We are in danger of undermining a lot of the goodwill that exists towards us in the football world.
"If we are not careful, we may be presented as whining, unforgiving, dog-in-the-manger activists who can't move on and we mustn't go there.
"We should use this as an opportunity to remind everyone just what a brilliant thing we've done over the past 10 years. And if, while doing so, we slip into the conversation just what happened to force us to undertake this journey, then we'll do that.
"But we need to make the coverage about us and what we've done, and how well we've done it, not about them and what they did to us."
MK Dons manager Karl Robinson is far more upbeat about the tie and admits that he and his players have enjoyed all the extra attention in the build-up to what he calls a "unique occasion" in English football.
"When the draw was first made and there was a possibility we could play each other, if we both won our respective replays, I did a little dance around my living room! I think it's a game that needed to happen.
"We're used to criticism and there are an awful lot of people who have wanted to knock us. But a lot of water has passed under the bridge between now and then.
"We're looking forward to what is the most unique game in English football. For us, as League One players and as a League One manager, we don't get this very often.
"Everyone is talking about it. I heard someone say it it the biggest second-round tie in the competition's history, and perhaps it is.
"There are people loving it and hating it but it's here so you've got to choose what camp you are in. And I'm in the one that's excited about it."