I have always watched with interest across the pond as certain teams in the U.S suddenly switch cities and move across the country to a new home. What baffles me is what the fans must think of it as the team that they have supported for years ceases to exist.
I have come to realise the answer recently. About 3 or 4 years ago my local football team, Wimbledon F.C was bought by a couple of Norwegian millionaires. Since buying the club they have never watched a match and have given the job of chairman to a man called Charles Koppel. Within 3 years of him being in charge the football team that I support has been moved from the area which I live to a place 100 miles north of South-West London, namely Milton Keynes. A distance too far away for me to travel.
Wimbledon has never been a successfull club, it only achieved professional status around 25 years ago and has a small yet loyal fan base. Originally its ground was in the borough of Merton, it was called 'Plough Lane'. This ground was considered too small by the football league and so the chairman at the time decided to share with a local club called Crystal Palace. Wimbledon have been sharing with Crystal Palace for the past 11 years, however the new chairman decided that the club was running at a loss and decided to move the club out of London. This may not seem so serious to some people yet a movement of a club from one place to another is unheard of and until now against the football league rules. The chairman now thinks he can forge a fanbase in Milton Keynes, however he forgets that football is a family sport in which team loyalties are passed down through the family, if he thinks he is suddenly going to find 25,000 fans who are willing to watch Wimbledon play week in-week out in Milton Keynes, then he is sadly mistaken; many people in Milton Keynes already support a club and are not about to support a club which has just move from south-west London. What irritates me more then anything else is that he has ignored options closer to home, such as the the redevelopment of Plough Lane into a 25,000 capacity stadium and other brown-field sites. He has decided to sack the manager because the manager did not agree with his policies about moving the team, Koppel also deliberately sold the team's best players, behind the manager's back, for cut-down prices so that he could get his way. Additionally he gave the manager no money to spend on new players. Miraculously the manager managed to achieve a good position in the league and was promptly sacked.
Unfortunately the Football League has sided with the money men and forgotten about the people who have now been left without a team to support. By accepting Wimbledon's move it is feared that this will herald a franchising of football teams around England which may never be stopped.
Wimbledon F.C: 1889-2002 R.I.P