English clubs · English league · Records & statistics · Sociology & community

Continuity Of English Clubs


I have information on the number of seasons each club has spent in each of the first 5 tiers of the English league system on my website.

Not everyone will agree, but whenever a club is immediately reincarnated or re-formed out of the same structures or fan base, I have treated it as a continuation of the old club. I have discussed the issue before.

Of the three clubs that have borne the name “New Brighton”, the current one arose out of the ashes of the second, and for my purposes, I would treat them as the same. Interestingly, it is stated on Wikipedia that the first, New Brighton Tower, played in an 80,000-seater stadium, but attendances were as low as 1,000.

Even more curious is the fact that the second New Brighton (and not the current South Liverpool) was the reincarnation of the original South Liverpool.

Likewise, the original Accrington is treated as separate from the two incarnations of Accrington Stanley. Although Wikipedia takes the view that the two clubs named Accrington Stanley are not connected, the latter was formed two years after the demise of the former, and my view is that from a historical perspective, there is a sufficient causal connection between the demise of the first and the formation of the second to treat them as one on my site.

I have been reinforced in my view by the fact that in the eyes of many fans, AFC Wimbledon, and not Milton Keynes Dons, are a continuation of Wimbledon, and I have treated Milton Keynes Dons as separate from Wimbledon on my site.

I specify the names of the clubs and the periods in question, for example:

  • Leeds Utd/City: 1905-15, 1920 to date
  • Wigan Athletic/Borough: 1921-33, 1978 to date
  • Wimbledon: 1977-2004
  • Milton Keynes Dons: 2004 to date

It allows anyone who is interested to find out more, and form their own view.

Numbers and statistics don’t mean much unless one understands what lies behind them. After all, there are “lies, damned lies and statistics”.

I listed South Shields and Gateshead separately merely because the names were different, but the actual history is fascinating.

(Merger of the following four posts on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum – 1st, 2nd, 3rd), 4th)

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10 thoughts on “Continuity Of English Clubs

  1. There is also a serious question as to how records are to be kept.

    Continuing from here, it is important to note that the two clubs themselves acknowledge that the heritage of Wimbledon FC has passed to AFC Wimbledon, and not to Milton Keynes Dons.

    “In October 2006, agreement was reached between the club, the MK Dons Supporters Association, the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association and the Football Supporters Federation. The replica of the FA Cup plus all club patrimony gathered under the name of Wimbledon F.C. would be returned to the London Borough of Merton. Ownership of trademarks and website domain names related to Wimbledon F.C. would also be transferred to the Borough. As part of the same deal it was agreed that any reference made to Milton Keynes Dons F.C. should refer only to events subsequent to August 7, 2004 (the date of the first League game of Milton Keynes Dons F.C.). As a result of this deal, the FSF announced that the supporters of Milton Keynes Dons F.C. would be permitted to become members of the federation, and that it would no longer appeal to the supporters of other clubs to boycott MK Dons matches.

    On 2 August 2007, Milton Keynes Dons transferred the replica trophies and all Wimbledon F.C. memorabilia to the London Borough of Merton.”

    In collating records and statistics on my website, I treat Wimbledon FC place in the Football League as having been taken by Milton Keynes Dons in 2004, for example, here.

    By this reckoning, Milton Keynes Dons are not a continuation of Wimbledon FC.

    Based on views I expressed above, AFC Wimbledon could justifiably be regarded as the continuation of Wimbledon FC.

    (First posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)

  2. In reply to

    … from my understanding of the situation, MK Dons were forced to hand over their history to the new AFC club by the FA or they wouldn’t have been allowed to change their name and badge.
    Also the Cup was given to the borough of Merton, not AFC wasn’t it?
    AFC are a new club as far as i’m concerned and are not entitled to claim the old Wimbledon clubs history at all. This is just yet another example of history being re-written to suit the powerful.

    Based on the quote from Wikipedia above, it was the association of football fans who forced Milton Keynes Dons to hand over the Wimbledon FC’s heritage. I relied on that fact to support the argument that Milton Keynes Dons are a new club, and not a continuation of FC Wimbledon.

    I relied on other considerations to put forward the argument that AFC Wimbledon are a continuation of Wimbledon FC.

    Owners, managers and players come and go. Fans represent the community with which the club is tied, which in English (if not European) football is a fundamental bond, and fans should have more say, especially when it comes to a club’s heritage.

    In this case, Pete Winkelman believed he could move a club from its traditional home to another part of the country to suit his own business and financial needs, without regard for the club’s fans or heritage.

    He got the move he wanted, but in the end, he had to leave behind the fans and the heritage. The heritage ultimately belonged to the community, from which the fans are derived.

    Winkleman got a short cut into the Football League. Good luck to him and his club, but they are not Wimbledon FC.

    In reply to

    In reply to

    Of course AFC Wimbledon are a continuation of Wimbledon. I don’t really see the difference between a club going bust and a club being nicked. Are Aldershot Town still Aldershot even though they dropped down a few divisions and started afresh? of course they are. Why is Wimbledon any different?

    If Aldershot Town are the same as Aldershot then they still owe over £1 million.

    See also Farnborough (Town) and others.

    Although the FA say Farnborough are a continuation by only dropping them two divisions and allowing them to enter the FA Cup. If that’s the case are the Inland Revenue and local businesses gonna get the money back they’re owed?

    The legal issue is different from the sports or sociological one. There is no doubt that the new club is a separate legal entity. The law, after all, is largely an artificial construct.

    The fans, and sometimes the FA as well, see the new club as a continuation of the old club from the perspective of the sport, or in sociological terms, such as community and fan base.

    (Merger of two posts on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum – 1st & 2nd)

  3. Evidence, albeit from Scotland, in support of the contention that the legal issue is different from the sports or sociological one:

    “The club finally went out of business officially on 1 May 2002 due to its overwhelming debts. The final match played by Airdrieonians Football Club was an away game against Ayr United at Somerset Park. The match was abandoned by the referee after a crossbar was broken during a protest pitch invasion, and was never replayed.

    After the club went out of business, a local fan, Jim Ballantyne, attempted to gain entry to the SFL with a team by the name of Airdrie United Football Club, effectively a direct replacement of Airdrieonians (similar to the way that Fiorentina re-established themselves as Florentia Viola following their own collapse under crippling debt). Airdrie United’s initial bid for league status was rejected, however, as the member clubs had already accepted the application of Gretna Football Club, who were then playing in the English UniBond League.

    In desperation, Ballantyne opted to buy control of Clydebank, another Scottish football club experiencing extreme financial hardship and, with SFL approval, the club’s name was changed to Airdrie United, the team relocated to Airdrie and the strip was altered to the famous diamond style of Airdrieonians. Airdrie United are predominantly viewed as a continuation of Airdrieonians, with the majority of the same supporters attending Airdrie United matches and the new club taking up the position of rivals to clubs such as Motherwell, Hamilton, Clyde and Partick Thistle who, historically, had had long standing enmity with Airdrieonians Football Club.”

    (First posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)

  4. In reply to

    In reply to

    I was amazed some months ago to discover on the FA Cup archives section on the FA web site that Milton Keynes had won the FA Cup in 1988, as every Wimbledon results were given to Milton Keynes. I’ve just checked now: it has been corrected.

    I don’t see why you were amazed.

    When Arsenal and Manchester City moved home they retained their records. When Woolwich Arsenal and Ardwick changed their names they retained their records.

    Like it or not MK Dons is Wimbledon FC with a name and location change.

    I think the principal issue remains whether a football club is merely a legal entity, or a broader sociological phenomenon.

    In reply to

    Either way, there is a clear line of continuity from Wimbledon FC (in London) -> Wimbledon FC (in Milton Keynes) -> Milton Keynes Dons FC (in Milton Keynes)

    Except that by giving up the heritage of Wimbledon FC, Milton Keynes Dons has itself explicitly or implicitly conceded that at a broader sociological level, it is not a continuation of Wimbledon FC (even though it is the same legal entity)

    “In October 2006, agreement was reached between the club, the MK Dons Supporters Association, the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association and the Football Supporters Federation. The replica of the FA Cup plus all club patrimony gathered under the name of Wimbledon F.C. would be returned to the London Borough of Merton. Ownership of trademarks and website domain names related to Wimbledon F.C. would also be transferred to the Borough. As part of the same deal it was agreed that any reference made to Milton Keynes Dons F.C. should refer only to events subsequent to August 7, 2004 (the date of the first League game of Milton Keynes Dons F.C.). As a result of this deal, the FSF announced that the supporters of Milton Keynes Dons F.C. would be permitted to become members of the federation, and that it would no longer appeal to the supporters of other clubs to boycott MK Dons matches.

    On 2 August 2007, Milton Keynes Dons transferred the replica trophies and all Wimbledon F.C. memorabilia to the London Borough of Merton.”

    (Merger of two posts on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum – 1st & 2nd)

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  6. Wikipedia states:

    “Halifax have been confirmed to play in NPL Division 1 North, however they have appealed to play in the NPL Premier, although this appeal could fail as the league is full and it is unlikely that the FA or the other NPL Premier teams will allow a 23rd team to play in this league.

    Gretna also applied to play in this division, however this was rejected. Gretna is reportedly currently attempting to join the South of Scotland League.”

    (First posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)

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