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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Ticket trouble for Dons
Wimbledon fans protest against the move to Milton Keynes
Wimbledon fans have turned their back on the club

The breakaway AFC Wimbledon has increased the pressure on its Nationwide League namesake by selling 500 season tickets for its debut season.

AFC Wimbledon was set up this summer by Dons fans in protest at their club's imminent move to Milton Keynes.

Charles Koppel's Division One side look set to start the new season at Selhurst Park despite plans to relocate to the Milton Keynes National Hockey Stadium.


Football clubs in the past were usually formed through one man's enthusiasm and passion, but this is different
Former Dons boss Terry Burton

And they face the prospect of having to survive on even lower gates than last season as fans desert them to watch Wimbledon AFC begin life in the Combined Counties League.

AFC Wimbledon spokesman Laurence Lowne said: "We have had 500 commitments on season tickets and 2,000 enquires.

"What we are looking forward to is us playing at Kingsmeadow and having more fans than they get at Selhurst Park, which is definitely possible.

"The crowds were down to 5,500 last season and as it wore on people just drifted away.

"I would have thought if their average gate next season is 2,000 it will be a result.

"That's why I think relegation is a possibility for them. The dream for us is to pass them on their way down as we're on our way up."

Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel
Koppel has been the target of fans' anger
Koppel's Wimbledon also face a battle from the breakaway Dons for the right to use the current club crest.

And Gillingham fans are considering snubbing the opening game of the season at Selhurst Park by turning up but refusing to enter the ground.

A Wimbledon spokesman said the uncertainty over the club's future home, which is expected to be resolved in the next few days, meant they had yet to sell any season tickets.

He added: "We've got thousands of applications on file waiting to be processed the second we know where we're playing. But we haven't sold one yet for obvious reasons."

AFC Wimbledon will ground-share at Kingstonian's Kingsmeadow next season, and claim to have lined up the biggest sponsorship deal in non-league football.

The club will be managed by former Dons player Terry Eames, who put 230 hopefuls through their paces in trails on Wimbledon Common on Saturday.

And they expect up to 1,500 fans to attend their first friendly against Sutton United next Wednesday.

Terry Burton, who was sacked as Dons boss in April, is one of those to have offered the new club his support.

Burton said: "Football clubs in the past were usually formed through one man's enthusiasm and passion, but this is different.

"Here a group of supporters have worked very hard to create this club.

"I have known some of the people here for fourteen years and it's great to see a smile back on their faces."

Wimbledon are planning to relocate to Milton Keyes

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