AFC Wimbledon promoted to England's pro leagues

BY foxsports • May 21, 2011

AFC Wimbledon joined England's professional football leagues on Saturday, beating Luton in a playoff barely a decade after being formed by disaffected fans.

The match for a spot in the fourth tier was tied at 0-0 after extra time, but AFC Wimbledon won the penalty shootout 4-3 at Manchester City's stadium.

Goalkeeper Seb Brown was Wimbledon's hero on Saturday, saving penalties from Alex Lawless and Jason Walker in the shootout, leaving captain Danny Kedwell to fire home the penalty that clinched the win.

AFC Wimbledon was formed in 2002 after England's Football Association granted permission to Wimbledon FC to relocate to the town of Milton Keynes, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) away and become the MK Dons.

After starting in the ninth tier of English football nine years ago, AFC Wimbledon turned fully professional last year and has now secured its fifth promotion through the football ranks, moving them one level below MK Dons.

In the early days, the club paid its players basic expenses. But after turning pro in 2010 and drawing an average of 3,500 spectators per match, players now make up to 750 pounds ($1,200) per week - still a far cry from the millions given to stars like Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and John Terry.

Three more promotions, however, and the club could find itself back at Old Trafford, Anfield and Stamford Bridge playing against the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea in the Premier League.