EFL drops misconduct charges after Wimbledon agree to mediation

The English Football League has dropped misconduct charges against AFC Wimbledon after the League One club agreed to mediation with MK Dons over their future meetings.

Wimbledon were charged in December for alleged breaches of regulations 3.4 and 3.5, which relate to how clubs refer to and treat each other.

The charges arose from Wimbledon's home match against MK Dons on September 22, when the hosts failed to mention the visitors on the cover of the programme and referred to them as Milton Keynes or MK throughout the match.

Relations between the clubs have been acrimonious ever since Wimbledon FC's owners were controversially given permission to relocate the club to Milton Keynes in 2003.

Perhaps the most famous of football's so-called phoenix clubs, AFC Wimbledon were founded in 2002 by fans upset over the move and joined the Football League in 2011 after five promotions in nine years.

The two clubs, destined to be bitter rivals, have been in the same division since 2016 and AFC Wimbledon were warned about their behaviour by the EFL when MK Dons visited the Cherry Red Records Stadium in March 2017.

When AFC Wimbledon repeated their refusal to acknowledge MK Dons' full name at the start of this season, the EFL referred the case to an independent disciplinary panel.

But, in a statement, the EFL has explained that the case, which was due to start, has been cancelled following a "positive dialogue" with both clubs. Those talks will now continue between the clubs "in the form of mediation which will be facilitated by the EFL".

League chief executive Shaun Harvey said: "The league understands the history and the strong feelings associated with the two clubs and we will now look to work with them both in an attempt to secure a positive outcome."

Mark Davis, who chairs the board of the Dons Trust that owns AFC Wimbledon, said: "The EFL's proposal is a practical suggestion for reaching a resolution of an issue which arouses strong feelings.

"We will participate fully in the mediation process with the aim of arriving at an outcome that is acceptable to all parties."

While MK Dons executive director Andrew Cullen said he recognised this will remain an "emotive matter", the club felt mediation was "much more preferable than formal disciplinary proceedings", as they could have led to sanctions which would only make matters worse between the two sides.

MK Dons are currently 23rd in League One, four points from safety with four games to play and AFC Wimbledon are 18th, four clear of the drop zone.