Promotion isn’t essential but we certainly need it, says Dons chairman Pete Winkelman

Dons won promotion in 2015
Dons won promotion in 2015

MK Dons need to return to the Championship as soon as possible, according to Pete Winkelman, but he admits promotion this season isn’t essential.

After a disappointing couple of seasons, relegation from the Championship and a midtable League 1 finish after a brief dalliance with the relegation zone on their return to the third tier, Winkelman believes Dons are shaping up to have a strong campaign this time around.

But if manager Robbie Neilson doesn’t fulfil the task of returning to the Championship this season, the chairman admitted it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

“Promotion is never essential, but we certainly need it,” he said.

“Every year we’re in League 1 is a year too long, and further and further from the Championship as their money increases.

“We will be competitive, we will be physical, we will be bigger but we’ll still have the same ambition and maybe we have to be more ruthless.

“Robbie made a real commitment to leave Hearts in the top flight in Scotland - where football is massive - and he came to 19th in the third division in England.

“He has ambition, and I’ve found ways of supporting what he wants to do because we believe it is managers that bring clubs forward. We want to back that this year.

“I know it’s his intention to turn this into a special season. It’s something we’re backing and something I believe in.”