During the 1996–97 English football season, Wimbledon competed in the Premier League. The season marked 20 years since Wimbledon's election to the Football League and was their eleventh successive season of top division football. It was one of the most successful of the club's history as they finished eighth in the Premier League and reached the semi-finals of both domestic cups.
The opening day of the season saw Wimbledon lose 3-0 at home to Manchester United in a game mostly remembered for David Beckham's late goal from inside his own half. The Dons also lost their next two games, but then went on a 19-match unbeaten run, including seven league wins in a row. A 1-0 over Blackburn Rovers in December left them 3rd in the table, one point behind leaders Arsenal. The team's form tailed off in the second half of the season and they missed out on the chance of European qualification, finishing 8th.
Wimbledon also reached the semi-finals of both domestic cups. Their FA Cup run saw them knock out holders Manchester United but they lost 3-0 to the eventual winners Chelsea at Highbury. In the League Cup they were eliminated on away goals by Leicester City, who also went on to win the trophy. The sale of Øyvind Leonhardsen to Liverpool at the end of the season left manager Joe Kinnear with a big hole to fill in a squad which had, so far, achieved so much on a shoestring budget.
Updated to games played on 11 May 1997.
Source: Premier League
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored 1 Chelsea qualified for the Cup Winners' Cup as FA Cup winners. 2 Leicester City qualified for the UEFA Cup as League Cup winners. 3 Middlesbrough were docked three points for failing to fulfil a fixture. (C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (E) = Eliminated; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.
Only applicable when the season is not finished: (Q) = Qualified to the phase of tournament indicated; (TQ) = Qualified to tournament, but not yet to the particular phase indicated; (RQ) = Qualified to the relegation tournament indicated; (DQ) = Disqualified from tournament. Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
^Sullivan was born in Sutton, England, but qualified to represent Scotland internationally and would make his debut for Scotland during the season.
^Jones was born in Watford, England, but qualified to represent Wales through his maternal grandfather; he made his international debut for Wales in 1994.
^Thatcher was born in Swindon, England, and played for the England U21 side during the season, but also qualified to represent Wales through his grandmother and would make his international debut for Wales in March 2004.
^Earle was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, England, but qualified to represent Jamaica internationally. He made his international debut for Jamaica during the season, having previously being called up for England once without playing.
^Ekoku was born in Manchester, England, but qualified to represent Nigeria internationally and made his international debut for Nigeria in 1994.
^Gayle was born in Hammersmith, London, but qualified to represent Jamaica internationally; he made his international debut for Jamaica in 1998.
^Goodman was born in Walthamstow, England, but qualified to represent the Republic of Ireland internationally and would make his debut for Ireland in 1997.
^Euell was born in Lambeth, England, but also qualified to represent Jamaica internationally and would make his international debut for Jamaica in July 2004.
^Cort was born in Southwark, England, but qualified to represent Guyana and would make his international debut for Guyana in 2011.