Ten years of Stadium MK: Premier League ambition must be met with Premier League actions

Pete Winkelman
Pete Winkelman

When Huddersfield Town kick off for the first time in the Premier League next month, it will be with a tinge of jealousy from MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman.

Back in 2012, Dons’ were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by the Terriers, who went on to secure promotion to the Championship, while it took Dons another three years to escape the third tier.

But while Dons went crashing back to League 1, Huddersfield consolidated, and against all the odds last season, secured promotion to dream land: the Premier League.

Ten years into their tenure at Stadium MK, Winkelman believes his side should take note of Town’s success story, and look to emulate it with their own dream of becoming a Premier League club within the next five years.

“If I dream, I want to see us in the Premier League,” he said. “It’s not impossible, but we might need to do things in a different way and that’s what the next few years will test.

“One of the most amazing stories of the last few years is Huddersfield. They had a bottom 25 per cent budget, but with a great manager, brilliant loans and a really strong ambitious team playing expansive football, they got to the Premier League.

“I don’t think having that dream is beyond us, but we have to show a way we can deliver it because if we can’t, we shouldn’t be here.

“You have got to have that ambition. And we do, and we’ve tried to back it up, but the proof is in the pudding and we have to do it on the pitch.”

Built for top flight football, Stadium MK turned 10 this week (see page 10), but with the dream still unfulfilled, Winkelman admitted he felt the club has moved backwards in the last 24 months since securing promotion to the Championship.

And with other success stories from previous incumbents of League 1, Winkelman hopes his side can emulate them.

He said: “The disappointment of the last 10 years is the fact we got to the Championship but have gone backwards.

“Seeing some of our cohorts in League 1 over the years - be it Leicester, Bournemouth Southampton, and now even Huddersfield - it gives you hope. It shows it has to be about top flight football here.

“I feel really bad that we haven’t delivered that. I still carry guilt about the Championship season, I feel we made too many mistakes and we didn’t react strongly when the writing was on the wall.”