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COUNCIL ASKS FOOTBALL LEAGUE TO TURN DOWN CLUB'S BID TO MOVE

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Merton LBC leader Andrew Judge has called on the Football League to turn ...
Merton LBC leader Andrew Judge has called on the Football League to turn

down Wimbledon Football Club's application to move to Milton Keynes.

Cllr Judge said: 'It is the only right thing to do. The Football

League needs to undertake a full investigation into what Wimbledon has

actually done for itself to find a new stadium closer to Merton and within

the M25.

'Right from the beginning when Sam Hammam walked away from Plough Lane and

went to Selhurst Park 10 years ago he said the council had to find space in

Merton. Now Charles Koppel is trying the same trick.

'The fact is we did identify 13 sites but sadly for a whole range of reasons

all but two did not measure up. The two that did are interesting. The

first was in Colliers Wood and in the late 1980's the Club actually got

outline planning permission for the site. They did nothing for five years

and planning permission lapsed.

'The other site was the Greyhound Stadium. First the Council and The

Greyhound Racing Association - not the Football club one observes - jointly

funded a feasibility study. This professional study said it was possible to

build a combined stadium for£30m. Sam Hammam rejected this because

at 28,000 spectators it was too small.

'Recently Charles Koppel had a look at the site, but he rejected because it

was too expensive at£60m - only£10m more than his own

estimate for the 28,000 capacity Milton Keynes!

'Make sense of all that if you can.'

Mr Judge said he now believed the club had no real intention of

coming back to Merton but had used the council to carry the can. 'We are

not going to take the blame. All Sam ever explored was Dublin, Cardiff and

Gatwick, he never once named a site in Merton he was aiming for. All Charles

Koppel has ever talked about is Queens Park Rangers and Milton Keynes.

'Just four weeks ago in front of WISA representatives, Charles Koppel asked

me to help the club in a search within the M25. He specifically asked me to

contact London councils to ask them if they had land and if they would be

interested in having a football stadium. Now, without asking me about the

result of that search, he announces Milton Keynes and shows the world the

designs. It simply does not add up.

'Club owners have to realise that supporters have a stake in their club that

is just as crucial to football success as the financial commitment of the

shareholders. They ignore the supporters at their peril, as Charles Koppel

has learnt when he failed to turn up for a supporters meeting last month

that he had agreed to attend.

'It is vital for football and for Wimbledon fans that the Football League

now turns down the club's request and demands that they undertake a real and

transparent search for space in London, within the M25 and particularly

within the Southern corridor.'

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