Wimbledon 'had to move' says former Don Malvin Kamara
Former Dons midfielder Malvin Kamara has lifted the lid on how the Wimbledon players felt during the move to Milton Keynes.
Kamara played 29 times for Wimbledon, making his debut for the club in 2003, having come through the youth team alongside the likes of Dean Lewington and Wade Small. But after relegation from the Premier League, Kamara said Wimbledon fans turned their back on the club, and left the owners with little option but to seek new pastures.
Speaking to former MK Dons kitman Tony Hawkins on the 'Sit Down or We'll Steal Your Club' podcast, Kamara said: "For me personally, as a young pro and playing in front of the crowds we were at Selhurst Park... it was empty. It was not a sustainable business model as I saw it. If we were lucky, we had crowds of 2,000, maybe 3,000 in the Championship. There was no way any football club could maintain a financial stability playing in front of those crowds in the Championship, coming up against other clubs playing in front of 20,000.
"The club had to move either from that ground to somewhere more sustainable in Wimbledon where they could get the fans in or move to Milton Keynes.
"When AFC Wimbledon was set up, they were getting full grounds. I was like 'hold on a minute, where were you when we were going through the hard times and Selhurst Park was almost empty?' You can't then turn around and say 'how dare you take the club away from us' - when the club got relegated, you disappeared.
"I remember at the time talking to the players and thinking the cheek of it to be upset with the club, but when the club needed you the most, when we got relegated from the Premier League, you turned your back on it and no longer wanted to turn up at Selhurst Park. They were all turning up to AFC games but not in the Championship because we were no longer playing against Manchester United. I can be honest and open and say that. I'd ask any AFC fan how they expected the club to survive.
"I have no allegiance to either club – I lived through it. I was there in the Premier League when it was full, and then we got relegated and there was no-one supporting their team. The stadium was a ghost town. I don't know how they can form AFC, jump on it because it was a bit of a fad and watch them in non-league. Their attendance was higher in non-league than it was in the Championship."
With the club in administration when it arrived in Milton Keynes, many of the senior players were sold on, leaving the Wimbledon youth team to play out their final season. But with the youngsters left to fend for themselves, Kamara said they did not really suffer much of the media backlash as a result of the move.
He added: "I didn't really, the club was going through that administration period and we were all really young. A lot of the more senior players who were the public faces were leaving the club, so a lot of the younger players were left. There was no real backlash against us, we were youth team products asked to fill the void. We were sheltered from the media backlash of what was happening.
"It was seen as a bit of an adventure and because it wasn't too far from London, we knew we could just hop on a train back."