Relegation back to League 1 is the ‘worst thing to happen’ to MK Dons said chairman Pete Winkelman in an exclusive interview with the Citizen.
Dons’ cameo in the Championship was ended on Saturday when they were beaten 4-1 by Brentford at stadium:mk, seeing them return to League 1 at the first attempt.
Speaking to the Citizen this week, Mr Winkelman issued an apology to Dons fans for the ‘major mistakes’ the club has made during the course of their brief stint in the second tier.
“I feel absolutely on the floor,” he said. “Like I’ve had my head kicked in. It has been a stressful, tough year.
“I hold my hands up, we’ve made some major mistakes and I can’t pretend this isn’t a big thing: this is the worst thing to happen to us.
“The feeling of relegation 10 years ago was bad, but we were new and we were learning. There was so much going on, but we’ve made such a better fist of it since then.
“It is very raw. We’re reliving the season, the post mortem is well under way. I’ve identified too many mistakes to even mention. It’s not one, it’s not two, but many.
“I let Karl down in not guiding him as carefully as I had been doing in previous years.
“I’m so sorry for Milton Keynes, and I’ve let everyone down. I was given the Freedom of the Borough and yet I’ve been relegated.
“I feel culpable and I feel the mistakes were avoidable. I’m not going to cry about it, I’ve already done that, but now we’re going again.
“I don’t want to over-react at this stage, because my reactions will all depend on how people are learning the lesson. If we’re learning it well, there’s no reason to say we can’t build on this. But if we’re not prepared to learn from the mistakes and take responsibility...
“I feel very sorry for the fans, because this isn’t a mistake they’ve made. But we’re not burying our heads in the sand or making excuses.
“At the end of the day, I have to take responsibility for that and I presided over mistakes. I allowed them to happen.
“I want people to be angry with us for making these mistakes, but we certainly aren’t the only people to make the mistakes. Plenty have gone up and come back down because they’ve been fixated on getting that promotion, not what happens afterwards. We’ve been knocking on the door for so long.
“But I don’t want people to underestimate how bad I think this relegation is. Only three clubs get relegated, but 21 stay in the league. We missed our chance.
“I’m not going into next season scared. We go into it as one of the big teams. That’s not to say we’re going to win it, because if we don’t learn these lessons we won’t get the success.
“The pressure will be on us more next season than ever before. And this is the first time there’s been a bit of pressure on us. Pressure means we’re getting bigger. Little clubs don’t have pressure, big clubs do.”