down Wimbledon Football Club's application to move to Milton Keynes.
Cllr Judge said: 'It is the only right thing to do. The Football
actually done for itself to find a new stadium closer to Merton and within
'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.'