Dons out of administration
Milton Keynes Dons have escaped expulsion from the Football League by coming out of administration.
Formerly known as Wimbledon FC until a name change, the club spent almost 13 months in the hands of receivers and was relegated into the Second Division, now the Coca-Cola League One, after selling off most of its best players.
But the formal transfer of ownership to a consortium headed by music entrepreneur Pete Winkelman took place on Wednesday night, and the club can now begin rebuilding.
Football League chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney said in a statement: 'After a long and precarious period in administration Milton Keynes Dons Football Club is now in a position to begin building for the future.
'I hope the League's policy of not permitting clubs to begin consecutive seasons in administration helped to focus the attention of all involved.'
The League introduced strict new rules this season to prevent clubs using administration as a way to clear debts and had threatened to expel the Dons unless Winkelman's takeover went through in time.
But despite delays due to a last-minute challenge from the Inland Revenue, the buy-out was eventually approved, and the Milton Keynes Dons now plan to build a permanent 30,000-seater stadium in their new location.
A club statement read: 'InterMK are pleased to announce that the Football League have today issued their final approval of the voluntary arrangement (CVA) and confirmed the transfer of the Wimbledon FC League share to Milton Keynes Dons Ltd, bringing certainty to a future for the football club in Milton Keynes.
'After the troubles of the past year, the club can now, at last, look forward to a period of stability at it's new home in Milton Keynes.
'We would like to praise the work of all the staff and players of the club, who have worked under tremendous strain to get the club in a position where it can now move ahead.
'We would also like to thank Andy Hosking and Nick Wood, partners in Grant Thornton, for their efforts over the past year of Administration. Without their valued input there is no doubt that the club would not have survived this incredibly difficult period.'
Peter Winkelman, chairman of Milton Keynes Dons FC, said: 'It's been a long road to get here, but I'm delighted that we have finally cleared all the hurdles and secured a future for football in Milton Keynes.
'I would like to thank all the supporters, both old and new, who have stuck by us through this difficult period. We now have the chance to look forward and begin to start repaying their faith with an exciting 2004/05 campaign.'
Stuart Murdoch, first team manager, said: 'This is a huge relief to myself, the coaches and the players. There have been times when we've wondered whether there would actually be a future for us at all.
'There is a lot of work to be done, but now that we are out of administration, the future will lie in our own hands and I'm relishing the opportunity of the forthcoming season.'