It’s the biggest game in our history - Winkelman

Pete Winkelman
Pete Winkelman

Bringing Manchester United to stadium:mk is the biggest game in the club’s history, says MK Dons chairman Pete 
Winkelman.

In the 10th anniversary year of the club, the chairman couldn’t possibly have asked for a bigger occasion to celebrate than by bringing one of the biggest clubs in world football to Milton Keynes for the first time.

“It just sounds right doesn’t it?” Mr Winkelman said. “It has taken us 10 years to get a really, really great cup draw.

“I watched the draw live, and when they said MK Dons had been drawn at home, I knew number 11 still hadn’t come out.

“It was really amazing, and it shows just how exciting a cup draw can be, because you can get one of the biggest clubs in world football at the end of it.

“It couldn’t be better and I cannot wait.

“It’ll be the biggest game in the club’s history.”

Ben Reeves’ video of his team-mates celebrating the cup draw has made for excellent viewing for Dons fans when it was posted online after the draw.

And the chairman admitted thinking it might have been filmed in his own home.

“I saw the players’ reactions, but I thought Bernie (Winkelman) had filmed us because we did the same!

“It was so unbelievable, but it’s real, they’re coming here and we’re all really looking forward to it.”

In the past, Dons have been drawn against big name opponents – Birmingham City, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers to name but a few.

But by and large, those big occasions have seen Dons take to the road.

This time though, stadium:mk will play host, welcoming one of world football’s biggest names for the first time since it was completed.

And while the alternative would’ve seen his side take a trip to Old Trafford, the biggest venue for club football in the country, Mr Winkelman cannot wait to welcome Man Utd to his stadium.

“I’m so pleased it’s here,” he said.

“We’ve finished the stadium, and getting Manchester United here really sends out that message about what we’ve achieved here in Milton Keynes.

“Sometimes you need the big Premier League clubs to come here to send that message out.”

As expected the game sold out with 29,000 tickets snapped up in quick time when they went on sale last week. On average, Dons get around 8,000 for a run of the mill league game.

But the chairman hopes that the special occasion next Tuesday night will attract a few more of the casual fans to follow.

He said: “You can’t grow football unless at some point you get some success. There’s a culture in football, you grow up with a club.

“But you need some success, and it won’t be possible to grow something like that in Milton Keynes without success.

“What a game like this one does is it brings out people who sat on the fence before to come and experience what stadium:mk is like.

“People will be amazed at the potential that Milton Keynes has.

“Manchester United will be special, and a fantastic night for Milton Keynes, but it will be about the other games that will see if we can get to grips with growing football here and making football the force it needs to be.”