MacKenzie loan is ‘beneficial to Dons’ says Winkelman

Pete Winkelman
Pete Winkelman

Pete Winkelman has defended the club’s decision to allow Gary MacKenzie to go out on loan to Blackpool for the rest of the season.

MacKenzie’s departure left fans scratching their heads when the news broke last Friday afternoon. But the Dons chairman said the deal was beneficial for all parties involved, including former Dons boss Paul Ince, now in charge of the Tangerines.

Winkelman said: “Although the move takes a good player away from us, we’re still strong in that position. And it helps a former manager at this club, the man who brought us the current manager.

“Hopefully, it will be win-win and it will only improve the value of Gary MacKenzie, who is an MK Dons asset.

“This club deserves and wants to be in the Championship. We need to be there sustainably though, and with confidence in the team. We’re putting our house in order so that we can not just fight for promotion this year, but every year in whatever division we’re in.

“We are always willing to explain what we do to our supporters. The Gary MacKenzie situation came from a club we’ve gotten to know quite well in the last month or so, and from a manager I have huge respect for.

“We contemplated whether we’d be able to do it. If you look at our team this season, Antony Kay and Shaun Williams have probably been the best players for us, playing at centre back while Gary has been out. But Gary is a Scottish international and I think playing in the Championship can only add to his value – of course he is still our player.

“If you look at him as an asset, I think having him playing in the Championship for the last few games of the season might be appropriate. We’ve got a recall in there. But we’ve got Mathias Doumbe and Tom Flanagan back with us, so we’ve got enough cover.

“I know it winds supporters up, but we’re a place where players come to learn to get better. We’re proud of the education that we can give to players, and it’s good news for the club, especially if we’ve been compensated. Over the years, we’ve been able to bring players through, like Izale McLeod for example who was a £1 million for the club.

“We have to be strategic for the long term future of the club. I hope we’ve made the right decision.”

Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Preston was Dons’ fourth on the bounce, and their chances of securing a play-off spot at the end of the season are beginning to fade. But Winkelman says he’s working hard to ensure the club can run a sustainable budget again next year.