During its time, Wimbledon FC was one of English football’s great underdog story’s, whether it be the ‘Crazy Gang’ in the 1990’s or the famous FA Cup win against Liverpool in 1988. The club had also had a precarious financial position that always threatened to put out the flame. In 2004, the club would be uprooted and moved 80 miles away to Milton Keynes, a decision that brought the anger of the fans of Wimbledon FC, a club that was rooted in the community.
However, nearly a decade earlier, the club found itself finishing sixth in the Premier League, whilst playing at Crystal Palace’s home of Selhurst Park. Manager at the time, Joe Kinnear, spoke about a potential move to Dublin, an unprecedented move for a Premier League team. The idea coincided with a new 60,000 purpose built football stadium being proposed in the Irish capital and was met with positivity from the Irish people, who had historically supported English or Scottish teams. So what might a move to the Emerald Isle have brought for both the club and the Premier League?
Firstly, for the club, it would have most likely lost a massive proportion of its fanbase had a move transpired. Although there was a suggestion at the time of offering any willing fans free tickets and travel to the games, an obviously ridiculous idea. The migration to Ireland would have almost certainly led to the creation of AFC Wimbledon, as was the case after the move to Milton Keynes in 2004. A whole new fan base would need to be cultivated, something that would take time and may not be successful.
As for the Premier League, had a move to another country, especially one not in the United Kingdom, it could have opened Pandora’s box, with Scottish teams being most likely the first to ask what they need to do to get into the most financially lucrative league in the world. It may also have led to other teams wanting to move abroad, should it prove successful for Wimbledon in Dublin. It might have been the straw that broke the camels back for the Premier League or a blessing in disguise, to say one way or another is impossible.
So, do you think Wimbledon would have been successful had they moved to Dublin in 1995? Should the Premier League have allowed it? Let me know in the forums, where a new topic will be waiting for a more in-depth discussion on what would have been a defining moment in Premier League history!