AFC Wimbledon chairman Erik Samuelson, who oversaw the club's return to the Football League following its reformation nearly 20 years ago, has announced his retirement.

The long-standing chief executive officer is stepping down following 12 years of service in the role, having previously been its finance director and board member of the Dons Trust.

Samuelson has been involved with the club since its inception back in 2002, helping guide the Wombles to three promotions in four years and plans for their new stadium Plough Lane.

Dons Trust chair Mark Davis said: “This football club owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Erik for all he has done for us over the years. Achieving four promotions and securing a new stadium would be a major achievement for the chief executive of any football club. But to do that within a fan-owned club, with limited funds and headcount, is truly extraordinary.

“Erik has been talking to the Dons Trust board for some time now about his intention to retire. With preparatory work getting underway at Plough Lane, I have reluctantly agreed to his request to let that happen now.

“I wish Erik a long and happy retirement, to share with Eileen and the rest of the Samuelson family.

“Erik is not a man who accepts praise or expressions of gratitude easily. His consistent request for marking his departure has been ‘no fuss.’ I look forward to further opportunities to make no fuss about Erik between now and the end of the season.”

Wimbledon’s commercial director Ivor Heller, who has also been at the club since it was reformed nearly two decades ago, worked together with Samuelson.

He said: “Erik and I are two very different characters. That is how we have survived so long together at AFC Wimbledon. I have absolutely no doubt that we as a club would not be where we are today without Erik. His guidance and wisdom have been inspirational.

“The dedication and work ethic have been way above and beyond reason. I have never met anyone that has shown such dedication to a cause. It has not been for money or for glory. It has really been all about creating a football club and a legacy.

“Without a shadow of doubt, Erik’s legacy will be Plough Lane. In the early days nobody thought it was possible. I believe that without Erik it would not have been possible.

“For that and many other things I will be eternally grateful. The club is now established and we are going home.”