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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 07:00 GMT 08:00 UK
Dons chief hits back
Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel in the Selhurst Park stands
Koppel watches from the stands on Saturday
Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel insists the club would be out of business by now had he not rubber stamped the controversial move to Milton Keynes.

Koppel told BBC Radio Five Live that he had tried every alternative possible in London before turning to Milton Keynes.

Wimbledon fans voted with their feet on Saturday as only 2,476 attended their opening game of the First Division season against Gillingham on Saturday.

Only 668 of those were Wimbledon fans, with large numbers of supporters prefering to gather outside in a massed protest.

Wimbledon fans in a near-empty Selhurst Park for the opening game of the season
Wimbledon fans were few and far between
Koppel has also been subjected to personal abuse since he took the decision to move the Dons away from their Merton home.

But he insists there was little alternative.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "If we'd carried on as we were the club would have closed in the summer.

"Administration was not an option, the club have to pay their way going forward.

"We have done everything we could in Merton to stay there.

"We contacted 35 councils in London to see if they would support us by letting us move to their locality but every single one said 'no'."

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Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel
"I still think the club has a bright future"
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