Milton Keynes Dons F.C.
Milton Keynes Dons Football Club (/ /), usually abbreviated to MK Dons, is a professional association football club based in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. The team competes in EFL League One, the third tier of the English football league system, after gaining promotion at the end of the 2018–19 season. The club was founded in 2004, following Wimbledon F.C.'s controversial relocation to Milton Keynes from south London, when it adopted its present name, badge and home colours.[n 2]
|Full name||Milton Keynes Dons Football Club|
|Short name||MK Dons|
|League||EFL League One|
|2020–21||EFL League One, 13th of 24|
Initially based at the National Hockey Stadium, the club competed as Milton Keynes Dons from the start of the 2004–05 season. After two seasons in League One, they were relegated to League Two in 2006. The club moved to their current ground, Stadium MK, for the 2007–08 season, in which they won the League Two title and the Football League Trophy under the management of Paul Ince. After seven further seasons in League One, the club won promotion to the Championship in 2015 under the management of Karl Robinson; however, they were relegated back to League One after one season.
Milton Keynes Dons have built a reputation for youth development, run 16 disability teams and their football trust engages around 60,000 people; between 2012 and 2013 the club produced 11 young players who have been called into age group national teams and between 2004 and 2014. The club also gave first-team debuts to 14 local academy graduates, including the England international midfielder Dele Alli.
Milton Keynes, about 45 miles (72 km) north-west of London in Buckinghamshire, was established as a new town in 1967. In the absence of a professional football club representing the town—none of the local non-league teams progressed significantly through the English football league system or "pyramid" over the following decades—it was occasionally suggested that a Football League club might relocate there. There was no precedent in English league football for such a move between conurbations and the football authorities and most fans expressed strong opposition to the idea. Charlton Athletic briefly mooted moving to "a progressive Midlands borough" during a planning dispute with their local council in 1973, and the relocation of nearby Luton Town to Milton Keynes was repeatedly suggested from the 1980s onwards. Another team linked with the new town was Wimbledon Football Club.
Wimbledon, established in south London in 1889 and nicknamed "the Dons", were elected to the Football League in 1977. They thereafter went through a "fairytale" rise from obscurity and by the end of the 1980s were established in the top division of English football. Despite Wimbledon's new prominence, the club's modest home stadium at Plough Lane remained largely unchanged from its non-league days. The club's then-owner Ron Noades identified this as a problem as early as 1979, extending his dissatisfaction to the ground's very location. Interested in the stadium site designated by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation, Noades briefly planned to move Wimbledon there by merging with a non-league club in Milton Keynes, and bought debt-ridden Milton Keynes City. However, Noades then decided that the club would not gain sufficient support in Milton Keynes and abandoned the idea.
In 1991, after the Taylor Report was published recommending the redevelopment of English football grounds, Wimbledon left Plough Lane to groundshare at Crystal Palace's ground, Selhurst Park, about 6 miles (9.7 km) away. Sam Hammam, who then owned Wimbledon, said the club could not afford to redevelop Plough Lane and that the groundshare was a temporary arrangement while a new ground was sourced in south-west London. A new stadium for Wimbledon proved difficult to achieve. Frustrated by what he perceived as a lack of support from Merton Council, Hammam began to look further afield and by 1996 was pursuing a move to Dublin, an idea that most Wimbledon fans strongly opposed. Hammam sold the club to two Norwegian businessmen, Kjell Inge Røkke and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, in 1997, and a year later sold Plough Lane to Safeway supermarkets. Wimbledon were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 1999–2000 season.
Starting in 1997, a consortium led by music promoter Pete Winkelman and supported by Asda (a Walmart subsidiary) and IKEA proposed a large retail development in Milton Keynes including a Football League-standard stadium. The consortium originally proposed that the stadium be located at the National Bowl but later altered their proposal to change the site of the proposed stadium to Denbigh North, the same site as the mooted retail development.
The consortium proposed that an established league club move to use this site; it approached Luton, Wimbledon, Crystal Palace, Barnet and Queens Park Rangers. In 2001 Røkke and Gjelsten appointed a new chairman, Charles Koppel, who was in favour of this idea, saying it was necessary to stop the club going out of business. To the fury of most Wimbledon fans, Koppel announced on 2 August 2001 that the club intended to relocate to Milton Keynes. After the Football League refused permission, Wimbledon launched an appeal, leading to a Football Association arbitration hearing and subsequently the appointment of a three-man independent commission to make a final and binding verdict. The league and FA stated opposition but the commissioners ruled in favour, two to one, on 28 May 2002.
Having campaigned against the move, a group of disaffected Wimbledon fans reacted to this in June 2002 by forming their own non-league club, AFC Wimbledon, to which most of the original team's support defected. AFC Wimbledon entered a groundshare agreement with Kingstonian in the borough of Kingston upon Thames, adjacent to Merton. The original Wimbledon intended to move to Milton Keynes immediately but were unable to do so until a temporary home in the town meeting Football League criteria could be found. The club remained at Selhurst Park in the meantime and in June 2003 went into administration. With the move threatened and the club facing liquidation, Winkelman decided to buy it himself. He secured funding for the administrators to keep the team operating with the goal of getting it to Milton Keynes as soon as possible. The club arranged the temporary use of the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes and played its first match there in September 2003. Nine months later Winkelman's Inter MK Group bought the club out of administration and announced changes to its name, badge and colours—the team was renamed Milton Keynes Dons Football Club.
2004–2006: Struggles and relegation
The first season for the club as Milton Keynes Dons was 2004–05, in Football League One, under Stuart Murdoch, who had managed Wimbledon F.C. since 2002. The team's first game was on 7 August 2004, a 1–1 home draw against Barnsley, with Izale McLeod equalising with their first competitive goal. Murdoch was sacked in November and replaced by Danny Wilson, who kept Milton Keynes Dons in the division on the final day of the season — but only because of Wrexham's 10-point deduction for going into administration. The following season, Milton Keynes Dons struggled all year, and were relegated to League Two; Wilson, as a result, was sacked.
2006–2010: Promotion and first silverware
Wilson's successor for 2006–07 was Martin Allen, who had just taken Brentford to the brink of a place in the Football League Championship. Milton Keynes Dons were in contention for automatic promotion right up to the last game of the season, but eventually finished fourth and had to settle for a play-off place. They then suffered a defeat to Shrewsbury Town in the play-off semi-finals. During the 2007 summer break, Allen left to take over at Leicester City.
For the 2007–08 season, former England captain Paul Ince took over as manager. Milton Keynes Dons reached the final of the Football League Trophy, while topping the table for most of the season. The final was played on 30 March 2008 against Grimsby Town — Milton Keynes Dons won 2–0 at Wembley to bring the first professional trophy to Milton Keynes. The club capped the trophy win with the League Two championship, and the subsequent promotion to League One. Following his successes, Ince left at the end of the season to manage Blackburn Rovers.
Ince's replacement was former Chelsea player Roberto Di Matteo, taking his first role as a manager. In the 2008–09 season, they missed out on an automatic promotion spot by two points, finishing third behind Peterborough United and Leicester City. They were knocked out of the play-offs by Scunthorpe United, who defeated MK Dons by penalty shootout at Stadium MK. Di Matteo left at the season's end for West Bromwich Albion. A year after leaving, Ince returned as manager for the 2009–10 season. He resigned from the club on 16 April 2010, but remained manager until the end of the season.
2010–2016: Karl Robinson era
On 10 May 2010, Karl Robinson was appointed as the club's new manager, with former England coach John Gorman as his assistant. At 29 years of age, Robinson was at the time of his appointment the youngest manager in the Football League. In his first season in the club Milton Keynes Dons finished fifth in 2010–11 League One. They faced Peterborough United in the play-off semifinals. Although they won the first leg 2–1, a 2–0 defeat at London Road meant they missed out on the play-off final, losing the Semi-Final 3–2 on aggregate goals.
The 2011–12 season brought similar results to the previous season with the Dons finishing fifth in 2011–12 League One facing Huddersfield in the play-offs. Losing the first leg 2–0 followed by winning 2–1 at The Galpharm saw Milton Keynes Dons lose 3–2 on aggregate against the eventual play-off winners. The away leg was John Gorman's last match in football after announcing his retirement a few weeks beforehand. Gorman's replacement was announced on 18 May 2012 as being ex-Luton manager Mick Harford along with new part-time coach Ian Wright.
Milton Keynes Dons experienced their best ever FA Cup campaign in the 2012–13 season by beating a spirited Cambridge City (0–0 and 6–1), League Two fierce rivals AFC Wimbledon (2–1), Championship Sheffield Wednesday (0–0 and 2–0) and Premier League Queens Park Rangers (4–2) to reach the fifth round of the competition for the first time ever in their history. Their record-breaking run ended in the fifth round at Stadium MK on 16 February 2013, losing 3–1 to Championship side Barnsley. After being in the top five for most of the season, the club finished the 2013–14 League One season in tenth place.
The 2014–15 season began well. The highlight event of the season's first month was being drawn against Manchester United in the League Cup second round, having dispatched AFC Wimbledon in the first. The Dons recorded a shock 4–0 victory over Manchester United in front of a sell out crowd at Stadium MK. A few weeks later, the Dons recorded their record win, a 6–0 thrashing of Colchester United at home. That record did not last long as it was broken once again with a 7–0 demolition of Oldham Athletic on 20 December 2014. Just over a month later, on 31 January 2015, the Dons recorded a joint record 5–0 away win against Crewe Alexandra, earning a short-lived top spot. On 3 May the club secured promotion to the Football League Championship for the first time, beating Yeovil Town 5–1 and leapfrogging Preston North End (who lost 1–0 at Colchester United) on the final day of the season.
The Dons started life in the Championship by beating Rotherham United away 4–1 on the opening day of the season and gaining seven points from a possible 12 in their first four games. They were not able to sustain this form throughout the season – the Dons did not win any of their final 11 games and they returned to League One after finishing 23rd in the Championship.
On 23 October 2016, Karl Robinson left the club by mutual consent, following a 3–0 home to defeat to Southend United the previous day, which had extended the Dons' winless run to four games and left them 19th in the League One table.
2016–2018: Slow decline
Robbie Neilson joined MK Dons as manager from Scottish Premiership club Heart of Midlothian in his native Scotland, with his first official game in charge coincidentally an FA Cup tie against Karl Robinson's new club Charlton Athletic. Neilson's reign started off well, with his second game in charge a win over AFC Wimbledon, and in late January 2017 a local derby win against Northampton Town.
The following season started badly, however on 30 December 2017 the team was noted for a remarkable 1–0 derby win against Peterborough, playing with 9-men for 68 minutes after controversial refereeing decisions and 13 minutes of added time. Neilson left by mutual consent on 20 January 2018 after a run of one win in eleven league games with the club 21st in the table; he was sacked the same day as his last game, a disappointing away 2–1 derby defeat against relegation rivals Northampton Town.
Under Neilson's successor Dan Micciche, the club continued to struggle in the relegation places. Following a run of poor results with only three wins in sixteen matches in charge, Micciche left the club on 22 April 2018, with assistant manager Keith Millen taking over as a caretaker. On the penultimate weekend of the season another defeat mathematically relegated them to League Two (leaving them seven points from safety with one game to play).
2018–present: Bounce-back and search for stability
Former Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale was appointed in June 2018 after 12 years at his previous club. After a season where the Dons were tipped to be favourites for promotion, the club spent most of the season around the automatic promotion and play-off places. Going top after a 2–0 win over Macclesfield Town in November, the club sunk to 8th in February before being one win way away from automatic promotion against play-off hopefuls Colchester United in the penultimate game. The Dons lost 2–0 which led to a "winner takes all" game against 3rd placed Mansfield Town, who were separated by goal difference, to determine who was promoted. MK Dons won 1–0 in front of nearly 21,000 fans meaning they returned to League One at the first attempt.
Following a poor start to the 2019–20 season in which the Dons achieved only one point from a possible 27, the worst run of results in the club's history, Tisdale's contract with the club was mutually terminated on 2 November 2019 following a 1–3 home defeat to fellow relegation-threatened Tranmere Rovers. The next day, Russell Martin was announced as the new permanent first-team manager; he had joined as a player earlier in the year. Fixtures were suspended on 13 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the clubs later voted to end the season prematurely with immediate effect on 9 June 2020, with the final table decided upon by an unweighted points-per-game system resulting in the club finishing the season in 19th place, thus avoiding relegation.
- Only seasons played by Milton Keynes Dons under that name are given here. For a kit history of Wimbledon F.C., see Wimbledon F.C.#Kit history.
|2009–2010||DoubleTree by Hilton|
Source: Historical Football Kits
The club's first stadium was the National Hockey Stadium, which was temporarily converted for football for the duration of the club's stay. Their lease on the venue ended in May 2007.
On 18 July 2007, the club's new 30,500 capacity stadium, Stadium MK in Denbigh hosted its first game, a restricted-entrance event against a young Chelsea XI. The stadium was officially opened on 29 November 2007 by Queen Elizabeth II. The stadium features an open concourse at the top of the lower tier, an integrated hotel with rooms looking over the pitch and conference facilities. The complex was to include a 3,000 capacity indoor arena, where the MK Lions basketball team would be based, but completion of this arena was delayed due to deferral of proposed commercial developments around the site.
In May 2009, the stadium was named as one of 15 stadia put forward as potential hosts for the England 2018 FIFA World Cup bid, which would include increasing capacity to 44,000. England's bid was unsuccessful, but Stadium MK went on to be one of stadia for the Rugby World Cup 2015.
The Dons' most famous non-football related supporter was local resident Jim Marshall, the founder of Marshall Amplification, who were one of the earliest shirt-sponsors. Racing driver Dan Wheldon was also reported to be a fan; after his death, a minute's silence was held in his memory before the next game's kickoff, against Scunthorpe. Former cricketer and talkSport radio presenter Darren Gough, despite being a Barnsley F.C. fan, attends Dons games from time to time as he lives nearby, and also frequently speaks of the Dons when presenting on the radio.
Other notable fans who are either Dons fans or regularly attend games are: Gabi Downs, Paralympic fencer; Andrew Baggaley, table tennis Commonwealth Games double gold medallist; Gail Emms, badminton world champion; James Hildreth and James Foster both England cricketers; Mark Lancaster, local member of parliament and government minister in 2012; Craig Pickering, 100m sprinter – bronze medal at the World Championship in 2007; Craig Gibbons, London 2012 Olympic 100 metre swimmer; Mikey Burrows, Sky Sports Radio presenter; and the late musician and radio broadcaster George Webley.
Initial supporters' club recognition
On 4 June 2005, at the 2005 Football Supporters' Federation "Fans' Parliament" (AGM), the FSF refused the Milton Keynes Dons Supporters Association membership of the FSF in a debate that, among other arguments, questioned why the Football League had yet to introduce any new rules to prevent the "franchising" of other football clubs in the future. In addition, the FSF membership agreed with the Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association that the Milton Keynes Dons Supporters Association should not be entitled to join the FSF until they give up all claim to the history and honours of Wimbledon FC. With this in mind, the FSF began discussions aimed at returning Wimbledon FC's honours to the London Borough of Merton.
Shortly afterwards, following heavy criticism for allowing the move, the Football League announced new tighter rules on club relocation. At its AGM on 5 June 2006, the FSF again considered a motion proposed by the FSF Council to allow Milton Keynes Dons Supporters Association membership if the honours and trophies of Wimbledon FC were given to the London Borough of Merton. In October 2006, agreement was reached between the club, the Milton Keynes Dons Supporters Association, the Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association and the Football Supporters Federation. The FA Cup trophy 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 agreement it was agreed that any reference made to Milton Keynes Dons FC should refer only to events subsequent to 7 August 2004 (the date of the first League game of Milton Keynes Dons FC).
As a result of this deal, the FSF announced that the supporters of Milton Keynes Dons FC would be permitted to become members of the federation, and that it would no longer appeal to the supporters of other clubs to boycott Milton Keynes Dons' matches. On 2 August 2007, Milton Keynes Dons transferred ownership of all Wimbledon Football Club trophies and memorabilia to the London Borough of Merton.
MK Dons have a rivalry with Peterborough United, since the two clubs have vied head-to-head for promotion to the Championship. There also exists between MK Lightning and Peterborough Phantoms in ice hockey a rivalry that pre-dates the one in football.
Head to head
Northampton is geographically the closest urban area to Milton Keynes with a professional football team, Northampton Town, the two places separated by a little over 20 miles (32 km). MK Dons supporters' association chairman John Brockwell has stated that the fans were looking forward to hosting Northampton, the club that, geographically at least, are their nearest rivals. Although Peterborough have been traditionally Northampton's main rivals, the "Cobblers" spokesman has stated, in 2008, that, "with MK Dons now on the fixture list, it gives [Northampton] supporters the chance to develop another rivalry."
In January 2016 police arrested a Dons fan for setting off pyrotechnics in the away end, furthermore two Northampton fans and three more Dons fans were ejected from the ground. In 2018, before the 30 January 3pm kick-off in the League One game between the two clubs, Northamptonshire Police arrested seven travelling supporters of the Dons, with one Northampton fan also arrested. Four arrests were for public order offences, one for criminal damage, one for pitch encroachment, one for obstructing the police, and one for affray.
Head to head
Due to their shared ancestry in Wimbledon F.C., there is an unavoidably acrimonious rivalry with AFC Wimbledon since the relocation of Wimbledon F.C. to Milton Keynes; AFC Wimbledon was the club created in 2002 by disaffected supporters of Wimbledon F.C.. Dons chairman Pete Winkelman initially stated that MK Dons were the rightful inheritors, writing in November 2004 that "MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon share the same heritage, but we're the real child of Wimbledon"
The first fixture between MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon took place in the second round of the 2012–13 FA Cup, where they were drawn to play each other at Stadium MK. Milton Keynes Dons won the match, held on 2 December 2012, by two goals to one, with a winner scored in injury time, scored by Jon Otsemobor and dubbed by MK Dons fans as "The Heel of God" (a reference to Maradona's "Hand of God"). Kyle McFadzean's opening goal for MK Dons in the second match between the two clubs, a 3–1 MK win in the first round of the League Cup in August 2014, was also scored with his heel, and was consequently labelled "Heel of God II". Two months later, in the Football League Trophy Southern section second round, AFC Wimbledon defeated MK Dons 3–2 with a winning goal by Adebayo Akinfenwa.
On 10 December 2016, the sides met for the first time in a competitive league fixture following MK Dons' relegation from the Championship and AFC Wimbledon's promotion from League Two the previous season. Milton Keynes Dons won 1–0, with Dean Bowditch scoring the only goal of the game with a 63rd-minute penalty. The first visit of MK Dons to AFC Wimbledon's home ground for a League One match on 14 March 2017 resulted in a 2–0 victory for AFC Wimbledon.
In 2017, AFC Wimbledon, in the club's programme for their home game against the Dons, held on 22 September, failed to recognise their opponents by their full name for the second successive season. AFC's official Twitter feed also referred to their opponents as "Milton Keynes" throughout their match coverage. AFC Wimbledon were subsequently threatened by the EFL with disciplinary action, and eventually charged for breaching EFL regulations. The charges were dropped. AFC were forced to refer to the MK Dons by their full name ahead of the 2018–19 season after the EFL stepped in to mediate.
Head to head
Head to head
Through the work of Milton Keynes Dons SET (Sport and Educational Trust), the club works locally (Milton Keynes and the neighbouring towns) in the fields of education, social inclusion, participation and football development. It works with schools, has 14 disability teams playing in regional or national competitions, works with BME (black and minority ethnic) community groups and runs many activities for women and girls. MK Dons also supports the "Football v Homophobia" initiative (one of only 25 premiership and football league clubs supporting the programme in 2012 and only 30 in 2013).
Milton Keynes Dons' work in the community was recognised by the award of Football League Awards Community Club of the Year for London and the South East for 2012, and in the award of an honorary doctorate to chairman Pete Winkelman by the Open University in June 2013.
Striker Sam Baldock was the first notable academy graduate who, after making 102 appearances, moved on to West Ham for a seven-figure sum. Since then he became captain of Bristol City and now plays for Reading. As of February 2015[update], Daniel Powell, Tom Flanagan and George Baldock, brother of Sam, all played regularly for the MK Dons first team.
On 2 February 2015, Milton Keynes Dons academy graduate and first team midfielder Dele Alli was sold to Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur for a fee in the region of £5 million. Alli became the first Milton Keynes Dons academy graduate to make a full England senior team debut, on 9 October 2015.
Kevin Danso is a graduate of the academy who went on to play for Austria and became the youngest player to make a league appearance in FC Augsburg's history, when making his Bundesliga debut.
On 9 August 2016 in a first round EFL Cup match against Newport County, manager Karl Robinson selected a first-team squad composed of 13 academy graduates and players, giving eight of those players their full debuts for the club including Brandon Thomas-Asante. The game ended with a 2–3 away win for the club.
- As of 20 July 2021.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Mark Wright finished the 2007/08 season as the club's top goalscorer, helping the Dons win both the League Two title and the Football League Trophy. Jon Otsemobor made 44 appearances for the club and scored the winning goal in the first match against AFC Wimbledon with a back-heel that was later dubbed the "Heel of God".
Milton Keynes Dons were former Premier League player Jimmy Bullard's last club before his retirement from football, making only three appearances for the club. Similarly Dietmar Hamman made 12 appearances as a player-coach before retiring.
Notable players loaned from other clubs were strikers Patrick Bamford, who scored 18 goals in 37 games, Benik Afobe, who became the league's top scorer in just six months, and Ángelo Balanta, whose loan spell lasted three years. Former Ireland international Clinton Morrison and former Premiership players Paul Rachubka and James Tavernier also had short loan spells with the club.
Alan Smith, most known for his time at Leeds United and Manchester United, joined the club on loan, signing from Newcastle United before making the move permanent totalling 67 appearances for the club. Other international players who have worn the Dons shirt include Tore André Flo, Ali Gerba, Michel Pensée, Cristian Benavente, Richard Pacquette, Keith Andrews, Russell Martin, Tom Flanagan, Drissa Diallo, Pelé and Ousseynou Cissé. Joe Walsh, Brendan Galloway, Jordan Houghton, Connor Furlong, Gboly Ariyibi, Gareth Edds all represented their countries at youth level.
- This list contains players who have made 100 or more league appearances (with the exception of Dele Alli). Appearances and goals apply to league matches only; substitute appearances are included. Names in bold denote current Milton Keynes Dons players.
- Statistics are correct as of 22 January 2021.
|Name||Nationality||Position[n 3]||Milton Keynes Dons
|Dean Lewington||England||Defender||2004–||539||19||[n 4]|
|Ben Reeves||Northern Ireland||Midfielder||2013–2017||102||22|
Players of the Year
|Pete Winkelman||Club Chairman|
|John Cove||Club Director|
|Sue Dawson||Club Director / Projects Director|
|Mark Turner||Club Director|
|Berni Winkelman||Club Director|
|Bobby Winkelman||Club Director|
|Peter Cork||Associate Director|
|Andy Gibb||Group Sales & Marketing Director|
|Ryan Gawley||Group Finance Director|
|Kirstine Nicholson||Head of Football Operations|
|Andy Wooldridge||Head of Business Sales|
The first Milton Keynes Dons manager was Stuart Murdoch, who had previously been manager of Wimbledon. Murdoch only lasted three months into the 2004–05 season before being sacked — his assistant, Jimmy Gilligan, managed the club for a month before Murdoch's replacement was revealed to be Danny Wilson. Wilson managed to keep the team up during the 2004–05 season, but failed to repeat this feat during 2005–06. Following relegation, Wilson was shown the door and replaced with Martin Allen. After Allen's team fell at the play-offs, he left to manage Leicester City. Paul Ince was appointed manager for the 2007–08 season, and proved to be a shrewd appointment as MK Dons won the League Two championship as well as the Football League Trophy. Ince too left after only a season, to become manager of Blackburn Rovers.
Former Chelsea player Roberto di Matteo was then appointed in July 2008, his personal first ever managerial position and left after a season to manage West Bromwich Albion. Ince was reappointed in his stead on 3 July 2009. Paul Ince resigned as manager on 16 April 2010, stating "a reduction in funds for next season was the reason behind his decision to leave", although he remained with the club until the end of the 2009–10 season.
Karl Robinson was appointed manager on 10 May 2010, having previously been the club's assistant manager under previous boss Paul Ince. At 29 years of age, he was the youngest manager in the Football League and former England coach John Gorman was named his number two. He was also the youngest person to ever acquire a UEFA Pro Licence at the age of 29. At the end of the 2011–12 season Gorman retired and was replaced by former Luton Town player/manager Mick Harford. At the same time, ex-Arsenal and former England international Ian Wright was also enlisted in a part-time role to provide assistance with coaching duties.
In January 2013, Robinson turned down an offer to manage Blackpool, a well established Championship and former Premier League team, in favour of his continuing commitment and loyalty towards Milton Keynes Dons, something which endeared him to the fans of the club. Robinson was linked to other former Premier League clubs including Birmingham City, Sheffield United and Leeds United, and eventually managed Charlton Athletic in 2016–18 after leaving Milton Keynes before moving on to Oxford United.
After Robinson's departure, Richie Barker acted as caretaker manager for just under six weeks before former Hearts manager Robbie Neilson announced his move to the club. Neilson was at the club for just over one year before he left by mutual consent in January 2018 after a disappointing run of one win in 11 league games. Former England youth coach Dan Micciche took over as manager, lasting a spell of three months in the job before leaving, being temporarily replaced by his assistant Keith Millen.
June 2018 saw the appointment of former Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale, tasked with turning around the Dons after their relegation to League Two. Tisdale began his League Two campaign with a near-perfect month, gaining 16 points from a possible 18, conceding just two goals. Tisdale led MK Dons to a third-place finish, gaining automatic promotion back to League One on the first attempt.
Following a poor start to the 2019–20 season in which Milton Keynes Dons achieved only one point from a possible 27 - the worst run of results in the club's short history - Tisdale's contract with the club was mutually terminated on 2 November 2019 following a 1–3 home defeat to Tranmere Rovers. The next day it was announced that MK Dons player Russell Martin would take on the managerial role with immediate effect, and later announced his retirement as a player to focus on the role.
- Statistics are correct as of 26 June 2020.
|Stuart Murdoch||Scotland||7 August 2004||8 November 2004||21||5||5||11||23.81||[n 5]|
|Jimmy Gilligan||England||8 November 2004||7 December 2004||4||2||0||2||50.00||Caretaker|
|Danny Wilson||Northern Ireland||7 December 2004||21 June 2006||81||25||32||24||30.86|||
|Martin Allen||England||21 June 2006||25 May 2007||46||25||9||12||54.35|||
|Paul Ince||England||25 June 2007||21 June 2008||55||35||11||9||63.64|||
|Roberto di Matteo||Italy||3 July 2008||30 June 2009||41||22||7||12||53.66|||
|Paul Ince||England||3 July 2009||10 May 2010||44||22||4||18||50.00|||
|Karl Robinson||England||10 May 2010||23 October 2016||346||147||81||118||42.49|||
|Richie Barker||England||23 October 2016||3 December 2016||8||2||3||3||25.00||Caretaker|
|Robbie Neilson||Scotland||3 December 2016||20 January 2018||66||26||16||24||39.39|||
|Dan Micciche||England||23 January 2018||22 April 2018||16||3||3||10||18.75|||
|Keith Millen||England||22 April 2018||6 June 2018||3||1||0||2||33.33||Caretaker|
|Paul Tisdale||England||6 June 2018||3 November 2019||73||31||13||29||42.47|||
|Russell Martin||Scotland||3 November 2019||Present||23||7||6||10||30.43|||
Former Manchester United and England international Alan Smith was signed as a player, but often assisted manager Karl Robinson during matches, and managed the reserve side on occasion. He took on a player-coach role at Notts County in May 2014. Similarly, Alex Rae, a former top-flight player, joined the Dons in July 2009 as first team coach on a temporary basis, with a view to a permanent deal, working under his former Wolves team-mate Paul Ince. However, Rae did make three appearances as a player for the Dons. He left on 29 October 2010, following Ince to Notts County, as an assistant manager, a role Rae fulfilled until he left the club on 3 April 2011, consequent to the departure of Ince.
- Runners-up: 2014–15
- Winners: 2007–08
- Winners: 2006–07
- Runners-up: 2005–06, 2017–18
- Portimão Cup
- Winners: 2004
Records and statistics
Milton Keynes Dons Women
The club founded a women's association football team in 2009. They operate as part of the club with an identical badge and strip, and as of the 2018–19 season, the team share Stadium MK as their home stadium with their male counterparts, one of the first clubs in the country to do so. They compete in the FA Women's National League South.
- In terms of its footballing assets and place in the English football league structure, Milton Keynes Dons F.C. is the continuation of Wimbledon F.C., which was formed in south London in 1889 and relocated to Milton Keynes in 2003. The club was brought out of administration in 2004 as a new company, Milton Keynes Dons Ltd, which purchased the assets of The Wimbledon Football Club Ltd and received the team's place in Football League One. The Wimbledon Football Club Ltd legally endured until 2009. Since 2006 Milton Keynes Dons has officially considered itself a new club, formed in 2004—it no longer claims any history before then, despite retaining Wimbledon F.C.'s "Dons" nickname.
- The club abandoned its claim to any history before 2004 in October 2006 as part of an agreement with the Football Supporters' Federation, which had previously boycotted the team and its supporters' groups. Under this deal Milton Keynes Dons transferred Wimbledon F.C.'s trophies and other patrimony to Merton Council in south London in 2007.
- For a full description of positions see Football positions.
- Dean Lewington played for Wimbledon before the club was renamed in 2004. The date of Milton Keynes Dons's first league match, 7 August 2004, was agreed in 2006 to be the date on which Lewington ceased to play for Wimbledon and began to play for Milton Keynes Dons.
- Stuart Murdoch was the manager of Wimbledon before the club was renamed in 2004. The date of Milton Keynes Dons's first league match, 7 August 2004, was agreed in 2006 to be the date on which Murdoch ceased to manage Wimbledon and began to manage Milton Keynes Dons.
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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.'
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And, on behalf of both clubs, the FSF respectfully requests that, with immediate effect, our media colleagues now refer to MK Dons in relation ONLY to matches played since their first Football League fixture was fulfilled against Barnsley on August 7, 2004.
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Thus the spectre of Luton moving to Milton Keynes has been raised regularly over the years, but the opposition of either the fans (vehement) or the Football League (ironic, given that it was on the basis of a club moving out of its area) always came to the rescue.
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The proposal has met with considerable opposition, and not just from the WFC fans. ... [M]ost of the hundreds (over 600) of communications we have received have argued against the proposal. They have generally been from individual WFC fans. 57. Supporters' associations and individual fans from many other clubs and people from as far afield as the United States, Australia (Wimbledon Supporters Downunder), Russia and Norway have also expressed similar views. ... The fans are not of the opinion that a club in Milton Keynes is better than no club at all.; "Dons get Milton Keynes green light". BBC. 28 May 2002. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
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Ten miles from Selhurst Park, in Kingston upon Thames, the following Saturday, the streets around the tidy little Kingsmeadow football ground are filling up an hour before kick-off. It is here that Wimbledon fans, fed up with the direction in which the owners were leading the object of their love, have set up a football club of their own. ... Early in 2001, Wimbledon's owners announced that they intended to move the club to the Buckinghamshire new town. The fans were adamant that it should remain in their community. 'They wanted to steal our club,' says Kevin Rye, of the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association (Wisa). 'Nick it and move it 70 miles north. That's what it is: nothing short of theft.'
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