19 January 2001
Helen Smith
Valuation & Estates Manager
Resources Directorate
Milton Keynes Council
PO Box 114
Civic Offices
1 Saxon Gate East
Central Milton Keynes
MK9 3HW
Dear Helen
Re: Milton Keynes Stadium
Further to our ongoing discussions, it is now necessary to move matters forward with
Milton Keynes Council and English Partnerships in order to provide a relocating club with
the legal certainty it requires before any firm commitment to move will be possible. This
structure is necessary to prevent the ‘cart and horse’ problems of relocation, providing
certainty on the one hand for the Council and English Partnerships that a football club is
part of the conditions and for the football club on the other that planning permission will
be obtained.
I am pleased to detail below a summary of recent progress, particularly with regard to
the national press speculation linking Wimbledon FC’s search for a permanent home
with the Milton Keynes stadium development.
Speculation regarding the potential relocation of Wimbledon Football Club has recently
reached fever pitch, with stories appearing in the national news media including lead
back cover features in the Evening Standard and the Guardian, together with London
BBC TV, Radio 5 and all the local media. Milton Keynes even had its first ever mention
on Match of the Day. In response to the Wimbledon relocation issue, the Football
League have recently gone on the record to say that the Board would consider an
application by a Football League club for a relocation to Milton Keynes. A spokesperson
went further to describe Wimbledon as a "wandering club" in need of a home after ten
years outside of their borough at Selhurst Park.
As members know, as football fans we have been very clear all along that Milton Keynes
can only be a solution for a football league club that is experiencing serious difficulties
with their home ground facilities. It is not our intention to poach anyone's football team
and I believe the role we played behind the scenes during the latter days of Crystal
Palace FC's time in administration has helped to allay any concerns the football
authorities may have had as to our intentions. For your information, in this case we
helped both the Football League and the Administrator, Simon Patterson, to conclude a
local deal for the club, by providing an option of last resort.
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The Wimbledon story has, however, leaked prematurely, with a number of important
issues not yet fully addressed, including the club's full consultation with supporter
groups, Merton Council and other local stakeholders. An early confirmation of relocation
will certainly add to the momentum of the planning process and Charles Koppel, the
club's Deputy Chairman, has publicly stated that wants to see an early resolve in order
to avoid continuing speculation. There is still the possibility, however, that the club’s
stakeholders will convince them to take longer to consider their options and the club may
wish to be seen to be fully re-evaluating all the local opportunities. In this event, it may
be necessary to delay formal announcement until the planning process is further
advanced and a realistic occupation date can be agreed.
Wimbledon are very much our preferred option, with the strong synergy between a
homeless club with a Premiership history and Milton Keynes' ambitions for a national
standard stadium. We do, however, maintain contact with a number of Football League
clubs as previously detailed to you. There is no doubt that Milton Keynes will provide a
sustainable future for a club, whilst also enabling the enfranchisement of our 250,000
population with the cultural and community benefits professional football will bring. It is
anticipated that the stadium provision will also encourage and accelerate the
development of other team sports in Milton Keynes.
I have previously detailed to members the reasoning behind the desire to bring top-flight
football to Milton Keynes and the considerable cultural and community benefits that will
result. The stadium proposals benefit from strong cross-party support from many
members of Milton Keynes Council and both local MPs, Dr Phyllis Starkey and Brian
White, as well as great interest from local business and the media. I understand from Dr
Starkey that ‘the solidarity of Milton Keynes’ has been noted at national government
level.
The stadium development is evolving as a key element in regeneration plans for
Bletchley in the south of the city through the planned introduction of the sport, creative
industry and retail employment opportunities. Working in tandem with other planned
initiatives at Bletchley Park and the potential future development of Bletchley Station, the
fully integrated approach we are adopting will generate significant planning gains for
Bletchley, which we hope to target at inclusive community projects and improved public
transport connectivity.
Our work on the stadium has already involved a high level of consultation with Milton
Keynes businesses, neighbourhood councils and community groups, schools, youth
football clubs, etc, as well as receiving operational advice and support from the outset
from the police, fire and environmental health authorities. The local media are already
providing public consultation platforms including radio phone-in discussions, regular
features and updates and publishing a broad spectrum of comment.
The local community will be right at the heart of any professional team in Milton Keynes.
As you are aware, in partnership with the Council and the School Sports Federation we
have introduced the Milton Keynes Talent Identification Programme (MK TIP), which is
currently producing a database of the 35,000 school-age children and their access to
and attainments in youth football. This project is being warmly welcomed by the schools
and is available for all pupils, boys and girls. It has led to the establishment of a football
communication network between schools, youth football clubs, Milton Keynes Council
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and ourselves and from which the incoming club will benefit. It has already confirmed
that there are, as I have previously detailed, Milton Keynes boys signed to 9 different
Football League clubs, with most travelling 50 miles for professional coaching benefits,
but there are still lots of Milton Keynes boys excluded from this opportunity for
excellence. For members’ information, at Under 14 level, Milton Keynes team Bow
Brickhill were the first MK team to be televised by Sky, when they won the Sky/News of
the World National 6-a-side Competition last summer.
In Bletchley, we have been involved in an Asian Youth Film SRB project in partnership
with Thames Valley Police, which is premiering later this month at Cineworld in the new
Xscape complex.
Progress on the scheme is governed by Milton Keynes Council’s Emerging Local Plan
process, as it is necessary for the stadium planning permission to share a co-ordinated
approach. Discussions between our stadium planning consultants and the relevant
council planning personnel are ongoing and work undertaken for the Transport Impact
Assessment, Retail Impact Assessment, Bletchley Regeneration and Economic
Development Report and full Environmental Study. A detailed planning application will
be submitted following the publication of the Local Plan pre-inquiry report.
As you can see, we are committed to our task of bringing professional league football to
Milton Keynes and the development of a landmark sports stadium within our borough. By
working in partnership with the Council and English Partnerships, the reality of
achievement draws ever nearer for us all. If you need any further information, please do
not hesitate to contact me.
Best personal regards.
Yours sincerely
PETE WINKELMAN

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