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Because we’re very very nice people here on the podcast, and whilst some of us have nothing better to do, nor are enjoying the sweltering temperatures – *cough* – of Tenerife and Barcelona, we have produced a not-too-shabby 2017-18 AFC Wimbledon League One fixture list that can sit on the lock screen of your iPhone. Tell all your friends, co-workers, gardeners, dogs, and parole officers all about it~! To download, simply click the link below, and save to your phone~!

→ FIXTURES WALLPAPER FOR IPHONE

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It is typical that the biggest clubs in the country, long detached from the lives of the people who support them, are edging ever closer to their European rivals at the same time the nation awaits its independence from its continental counterparts.

The desire of last season’s top six teams to take a greater share of the Premier League’s television revenue continues to be subdued by their fellow top flight clubs, who are vaunted for their stance. But with English clubs’ performances continuing to decline in the Champions League, the owners of those six clubs will not tolerate the status quo for much longer.

And as competition within Europe’s other top leagues continues to deteriorate, and as TV companies scramble to find ways to boost flagging viewing figures, the outcome, which many have expected for decades, seems inevitable.

But whilst common opinion has always been opposed to the idea of a European ‘Super League’, clubs in the Football League should perhaps start to consider how beneficial the disappearance of the nation’s largest sides could be – and the evidence is already starting to mount.

Over the last two seasons, stadium attendance in all three divisions of the Football League has risen. League Two may have noticed a modest 1.5 per cent increase, but with rises of 12.7 per cent each, League One and The Championship have experienced somewhat of a boom period.

Of course, the relegations of Aston Villa and Newcastle have impacted these figures, but these increases are not to be ignored. Television has made elite-level football more accessible than ever before, but the desire to attend games on a Saturday afternoon remains as fierce as it always has been.

And for Premier League clubs, those three o’clock kick-offs will soon be rarer than a full stadium in Milton Keynes.

The current broadcast contract allows for 168 live games a season – at a cost of £5.136bn to Sky and BT Sports. However, viewership as a whole dropped: 14 per cent for Sky; 2 per cent for BT.

So in an effort to ensure the two broadcasters continue to invest such huge sums, clubs are proposing allowing over 200 games to be screened live when the new contract begins in 2019. That leaves less than half of all games to be scheduled for Saturday 3pm – and that figure will be further diminished by midweek games and Europa League rescheduling.

With viewing numbers falling so sharply, the broadcasters have, naturally, looked for ways to ensure they can afford the product, with the loss of the contract not an option, particularly for Sky, who will not want to suffer the embarrassment of letting slip their hold of the competition they have helped build since 1992.

The only way to keep those figures up is to offer more and more games to international viewers, at times more convenient to them. Saturday evenings and early Sunday mornings are another inevitability, to exploit the Asian and Australian markets, with the former also attempting to steal a share of the UK peak-time audience.

It’s a tactic that the biggest clubs in Spain have already started to take advantage of, with Real Madrid and Barcelona experimenting with 12.30 or 10pm starts. And it is this that forms the crux of the issue for the ‘Big Six’.

It is currently estimated that international rights rake in £3bn of revenue for the Premier League. The argument, pushed chiefly by Liverpool and Manchester City – but supported by Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Chelsea – is that their popularity is the key generator behind that revenue, and that they should have a greater share.

For those clubs, it is the only way to compete with their Spanish rivals, who have won six of the last 10 Champions League finals between them.

But the Premier League’s collective bargaining deal will restrict them from doing so, and with Sky wanting to ensure they can continue to profit from subscribers, a breakaway European League seems the only solution for the biggest players in the market to get exactly what they want.

Why should the Football League celebrate this? There are many problems that would have to be resolved which have the potential to have a negative impact – the fate of the FA Cup, for one.

However, with attendances already on the rise, EFL clubs could be taking advantage of a surge through the turnstiles from 2019, when for many top flight fans, Sunday morning away games become unattainable. On top of that, the increased cost of pay TV channels could also convince fans to head to their local club for their weekend football fix – especially with many freezing and even reducing ticket prices, with a notable increase in matchday turnouts because of that, most famously at Bradford City.

Any departure for the top clubs to a breakaway league would likely need a lot of negotiation, akin to – but hopefully nowhere near as laborious as – our beloved Brexit. For example, whilst a rise in ticket sales would be beneficial, it would be negated if the cash that trickles down from the top division, however negligible many believe it to be, was not protected.

Yet in the age of globalisation, numbers wanting to connect with people at a local, community level is burgeoning. A more competitive top division, free from the stranglehold of half a dozen clubs, would do wonders for clubs seeking greater engagement from their local population.

For ourselves, with a new stadium on the horizon, the potential is huge. For so long we have resisted reform, but perhaps a change at the top will ensure life for us remains how we would like it to be. It’s just a question of whether the rest of Europe’s elite clubs elect not to remain with the status quo, and instead leave their nations behind.

I can’t speak for those countries, but I’m not sure English football would be too sorry to see our top clubs go. We’d remain strong and stable without them, and I’m sure the benefits would be felt by the many – not just the few.

// Nick Draper – @afcwnick14

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Tom Elliott typified what Wimbledon fans look for in a player. Strong, honest, hard-working and affable, we should be proud and humble to have had him at our club – not downhearted that he has decided to move on.

Indeed, despite Tom being voted Player of the Year by supporters – who also urged him to sign a new contract as he collected said award – his exit will not weaken the first-team whatsoever. In fact, it is likely to strengthen us as we enter our difficult second season in League One.

This is not to detract from or diminish his achievements during the last campaign, or his importance to us in maintaining our position in the third tier.

But aside from a purple-patch of form between October last year and January this, the quality of Tom’s performances over the course of his two seasons with the club was inconsistent, and our desire to build around him rendered us predictable, inflexible, and ineffectual for most of the second-half of our League One campaign.

Having left Leeds in 2011, and struggled at a number of clubs, including Hamilton Academical during a short spell with the Scottish Premier League side, Tom found his feet – and enjoyed his most prolific spell – with Cambridge United, in the Conference. He finished the 2012-13 season as the club’s top goal-scorer, netting once every two games, before fitness problems disrupted his form over the next couple of years.

Eight goals during United’s first season back in the Football League encouraged Neal Ardley to bring him to Kingsmeadow as one of four strikers in the squad – most likely with a view to rotating him with Adebayo Akinfenwa in the role of target man. As the season unfolded, Elliott was often Ardley’s pick in the starting line-up, but his contributions were limited – the last of his six League Two goals coming in a 3-2 defeat to Yeovil in January.

Akinfenwa, meanwhile, began to exert his influence on the squad as the season wore on, and played a vital role in not only earning us a place in the play-offs, but winning them as well. His performances over the entirety of the campaign had been much-maligned, but Akinfenwa’s season total of six goals was equal to that of Elliott’s – even though both registered on the score-sheet fewer times than another much-maligned forward, Adebayo Azeez.

The anaemic nature of Tom’s performances led many to believe that he would struggle in League One, and that fear seemed to be being realised over the first 10 games of the season, with Elliott and new signing Tyrone Barnett interchangeable alongside Lyle Taylor in a staid 442 line-up.

But a switch to 433 in late September changed Tom’s, and the team’s, fortunes.

Away wins at Oxford, Bury, and Peterborough saw the Dons playing their best football of the season, with Taylor and Andy Barcham flourishing alongside the big man upfront. Whilst Elliott dominated both centre-halves in the air, his two partners exploited space out wide and in-behind the opposition, which allowed the Dons midfield to push high up the pitch also. Teams were unable to counter the fluid nature of the team in that period, and another play-off push was not out of the question, especially with Dom Poleon slotting comfortably into the system when required.

However, the key to the success of that system was dependent on Elliott winning his battles. And just before Christmas, once teams figured out how to nullify his threat, Tom’s impact became marginalised – and the team suffered. Unable to win his aerial duels, his lack of pace, and surprisingly poor ability with his back to goal, were accentuated. Worryingly, we did not seem confident to change plans from what had been working so well for us before, and so became almost obsessed with directing our attacking play through Tom, to the visible frustration of some of his teammates.

Occasionally, it paid dividends – Bolton away, for example – but for the most part, it hampered us. Tom’s late equaliser at home to Charlton was born more out of persistence than quality, and the subsequent draw with Coventry – for which Elliott was suspended – exhibited the tactical rigidity we had succumbed to: if Tom was not there, we did not change style, only personnel. We had become so one-dimensional that the team lacked ideas, imagination, or invention. After the turn of the new year, we managed just five wins – and Tom failed to score in any of them.

So instead of being fearful of the impact Elliott’s departure will have on the team, we must take advantage of his leaving, and re-evaluate how we will tackle League One next year. We have to reassess how to get the best out of our most productive attacking players – namely Poleon and Taylor, who were as and more prolific than Elliott respectively last year – and instil a flexibility in our players that avoids prescribing them with a complacent, routine game-plan.

This does not mean we forget the contribution Tom made for us, nor that he is an upstanding individual, as the podcast team discovered whilst working with him in the latter part of the season, during which time he proved himself a true gentleman and perfect ambassador for the club.

But had he not decided to chance his arm with Millwall – and the club offered him a new contract, remember – we’d have likely slept-walked into keeping calm and carrying on as before, almost certainly into a scrap to avoid relegation.

We can feel sad that such a character is no longer a part of our family, but we must welcome the opportunity to make ourselves stronger, and more stable, without him. The signing of Kwesi Appiah is the first step: his touch and movement, allied with the pace of Barcham and goals that Lyle guarantees, should make us forget what has been, and get us excited by what is to come.

// Nick Draper – @afcwnick14

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It’s a bumper edition of the podcast this week, because it’s the final edition of the podcast … for this season, at least. Yes, after months of highs, lows, drama, tension, and joy, the curtain has been drawn on the 2016-17 campaign, and it’s time to sit back and reflect on everything that we’ve had the pleasure, albeit sometimes dubious, to witness.

Nick and Stu are looking back at the main talking points of the season, picking out our best and worst moments, from kits to keepers and signings to, erm, Sutton. We also have a glance around League One, looking at the best managers and travelling fans, as well as looking at which teams have over and under-achieved. With the help of Mark Hendrikx, we remember the best goals we have seen this campaign, be it for or against us, whilst George Jones helps pick the bones out of our away days. We also look back at the podcast team’s pre-season predictions, to determine how wrong a group of football fans can possibly be. Herbie Knott also joins us to talk more about his charity bike ride.

But of course, alongside all our treasured memories, life goes on, and Top 7 lists and Poleon Go continue – for one more show, at least – to feature. There’s also a Two Word Tango to bring the season to a fitting close. So, as we ride off into the sunset, we hope you enjoy our final offering of the season – although we totally understand if you want to, you know, break this into a few listens … because you want to savour listening to Nick and Stu, of course, and not because an hour-and-a-half of us might be considered a worse fate than having a season ticket at Vicarage Road. Viva Alexa Bliss!

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Don’t worry listeners! The title of this week’s show is not Nick and Stu riding off into the sunset – we’ve still got another week yet – but is in fact a reference to the members of the AFC Wimbledon squad that are departing Kingsmeadow. We have seven definites, two probables, and five possibles, so we’ve decided to look at each and every one of them, discussing whether the time is right for them to move on, and how well they’ve done for us in their time at the club.

We also look back at the Oldham game, and look forward to the final throes of the season. Who will win the League One play-offs, and who is coming down from the Championship? There’s also our somewhat-less serious topics of conversation, including Game Boys, meat-based football teams, Poleon Go, Two Word Tango, and a lot of the goddess of professional wrestling, Alexa Bliss. Who is awesome. There’s also bonus microphone issues for you this week, because we love you so much.

We also take time to speak to Herbie Knott, a Wimbledon fan of over 30 years, who is undertaking a London to Amsterdam cycle ride this summer, in aid of Prostate Cancer. Herbie is taking six other Dons fans with him, so we implore you to listen to his story, and perhaps throw a few quid his way.