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Wimbledon Stadium: Some Important News

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didn't Wimbledon FC go bust hence why Peter Winkleman and co bought them outright and moved the franchise to Milton Keynes, so what has changed to make them more viable, surely with all the other football teams in and around London times will be even harder for them.

 

Difficult to sum up the turbulent history of the original Wimbledon FC (and particularly its home ground at the west end of Plough Lane) in just a few paragraphs for a forum like this, but here goes ... the key thing about viability is that top-division football at that original ground became ever more impossible whereas at least lower-division football on the bigger site of the current Wimbledon Stadium would be much more realistic.

 

(If you google-map that area, the old football ground took up just the land hemmed inside the junction of Durnsford Road and Plough Lane to the west of the River Wandle where the 4 apartment blocks parallel to each other now stand)

 

Just when the club was beginning its rapid rise through the divisions (4th-Div winners 1983, 3rd Div runners-up '84 and 2nd Div promotion '86), a previous and much less football-friendly edition of Merton Council reckoned it could still buy back that ground for its late-1950's rateable value of only £8,200 thanks to an agreement struck in that earlier time when it had helped to stabilise the club's finances.

 

That harsh attitude from the 1980's council meant Wimbledon FC were already trying to find a new home even before the all-seater requirements of football's Taylor Report would have left Plough Lane with only about 6,000 as its all-seater capacity (it was roughly double that while terracing remained allowed) ... it also meant there were plenty of supporters and club officials who would have preferred nothing to do with any civic parade celebrating the 1988 FA Cup triumph given they felt the council didn't deserve any glow from the football club's glory.

 

A nearby site sketched out as the Wandle Valley Stadium seating 20,000 would have doubled up as Wimbledon's new football ground plus an upgrade for the 15,000-capacity Crystal Palace arena a few miles away that was long established as London's premier athletics venue ... it would have been the same size as the recently defunct Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield that was built at much the same time for that city's hosting of the 1991 World Student Games.

 

But Wandle Valley never got going, partly because its multi-sport and community aspects that were vital to its overall viability required its football-field to be an artificial surface at just the time the Football League was banning such pitches after so many sides hated QPR's plastic surface at Loftus Road.

 

Hence why Wimbledon became the 2nd football club (immediately after Charlton's ground-sharing spell at Crystal Palace) to rent Selhurst Park for home games, starting in August 1991 because terracing was only allowed to remain in use by then in the top 2 divisions providing you could prove how your existing ground would become all-seater or you clearly had a new all-seater home on the horizon.

 

(That's why Sunderland were still allowed to use terracing at Roker Park as late as the 1996-97 Premiership season, albeit limited in capacity to only the number of seats that particular terracing could house, because they repeatedly showed successfully that they were on their way, firstly to a site next to Nissan's factory that was never used because it was trumped by the fresh availability of the former Wearmouth Colliery that did become the Stadium of Light )

 

As long as Wimbledon stayed in the top-flight, it was financially viable for them to rent Selhurst Park simply thanks to the combination of tv-money and huge numbers of away fans regularly outnumbering the Dons fans.

 

All sorts of projects to give Wimbledon FC a new home were mooted but whether they were local or wildly distant (some of you might remember moving them to Dublin to create every away fan's jolly-trip of the season got stacks of media coverage), nothing emerged and their relegation from the Premier League in May 2000 after 14 top-level seasons wrecked the financial balancing act.

 

It wasn't long before rock-promoter Pete Winkleman's plan to relocate them to Milton Keynes became easily the most practical but also hugely controversial way to prop up that version of Wimbledon FC at roughly the level it was holding within the league pyramid (as it's turned out, it's only this season after several near-misses that MK Dons are finally playing in what's now the Championship on their own merit) ... once that move was given the football authorities' blessing, that's when the current AFC Wimbledon was formed in 2002 by the supporters appalled at the 60-mile move north, initially taking a couple of thousand away fans to tiny non-league grounds in Surrey that often didn't have even 100 home fans !!

 

Looking forward, Dagenham & Redbridge would be as good an example as any other London club of how a lower-league side can be viable in the capital despite the mega-millions of the bigger clubs ... that club's roots belong to 4 different historically famous non-league East London sides because Leytonstone merged with Ilford and then further merged with Walthamstow Avenue to create Redbridge Forest before yet another merger with Dagenham created the current club which remains on Dagenham's traditional ground but whose upgrading to top non-league and then Football League standard was reliant on Redbridge's financial clout.

 

AFC Wimbledon have shown in recent seasons they have the equivalent of Redbridge's financial clout but they haven't had the equivalent of Dagenham's traditional ground within Wimbledon's geographical area ... meanwhile, it's clear there's a current mood within many of Merton's councillors that returning the modern local successors to Wimbledon FC into the borough will be a political apology for the council's 1980's attitude.

 

And then, of course, there's the financial side in council tax revenue that a rectangular sporting floorspace surrounded by rectangular stands is far easier for developers to build a greater number of apartments into the remaining space compared to the oval-shaped (and bigger) sporting floorspace that any combination of greyhounds, speedway or stock cars require ... as I've pointed out on this thread before, even as big a rectangular sporting floorspace as Cardiff's Millennium Stadium houses only a 285-metre speedway track for its Grand Prix whereas any greyhound development at Wimbledon would have wanted to stay close to the current 414-metre dog track.

 

All of which helps explain why Merton Council's so overwhelmingly voted for the football plan despite Wandsworth Council's continuing (and very justifiable) concern that any flood management written into this football plan could shift the risk of the River Wandle bursting its banks further downstream into the remaining mile of that river that's entirely within Wandsworth's boundaries before it flows into the Thames close to Wandsworth town centre.

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Good post Arthur. My main issue with the application being accepted is how it has been blindly accepted by many because it is a Football bid. This can be summed up by reading through the objections and support for the stadium in the document which is comical. What makes it even more laughable is the fact in the last 5-10 years a number of proposals were made to extend the hours of the car-boot sale that is held in car park which all were rejected due to an unjustifiable increase in traffic in an already traffic intense area. So how can a Football stadium with 600+ houses and everything else that's going to be developed not have an unjustifiable increase on traffic?! Or is it justifiable because it is a football stadium?

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Or is it justifiable because it is a football stadium?

That is probably the reason.Unpalatable as it may seem a league football stadium brings more prestige to an area than a jumble sale.In by gone days a speedway stadium did the same thing.Sadly for our sport, those days are long long gone

Edited by iris123
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Good post Arthur. My main issue with the application being accepted is how it has been blindly accepted by many because it is a Football bid. This can be summed up by reading through the objections and support for the stadium in the document which is comical. What makes it even more laughable is the fact in the last 5-10 years a number of proposals were made to extend the hours of the car-boot sale that is held in car park which all were rejected due to an unjustifiable increase in traffic in an already traffic intense area. So how can a Football stadium with 600+ houses and everything else that's going to be developed not have an unjustifiable increase on traffic?! Or is it justifiable because it is a football stadium?

 

Local politicians in London with a long memory won't have forgotten what happened in the 1990 Greenwich borough elections when enough Charlton Athletic fans stood for the Voice Of The Valley party to field a full set of candidates in protest that the council wasn't helping that football club anywhere near as much as it should have been to restore their famous old ground, thus forcing at least a 6th season of renting Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park for home games (in the end, after that 6th Charlton season borrowing Selhurst, Wimbledon became the new Selhurst tenants so Charlton switched to West Ham's Upon Park for a season and the next autumn before The Valley reopened in December 1992). .

 

Incredibly, VOTV collected nearly 15,000 votes and it remains one of the very few examples of a party not remotely interested in day-to-day politics having a big impact on an election because although none of the VOTV candidates won a council seat, their presence on the ballot paper and the hefty number of votes they drained from established councillors clearly had the decisive swing in ousting at least 2 big local names.

 

Add that Charlton/Greenwich example to any political shame in Merton for the 1980's treatment of Wimbledon FC plus the increasing desperation of nearly any council to boost its council tax revenues regardless of the consequences and any common sense arguments about the ever-increasing risks of flooding don't stand a chance.

 

Car boot sales don't generate council tax revenue while clogging up the traffic ... apartments do generate council tax revenue while clogging up the traffic ... spot the subtle difference ? !!

 

And remember, floods only happen "once in a lifetime" long after the councillors who've increased the risk of them are no longer serving insde the council chamber ... try explaining that to the folk in Carlisle who've just had their 3rd "flood of a lifetime" during the 21st century (2005, 2009 and last week) !!

Edited by arthur cross
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Love your work Arthur.

Haven't lived or worked in the area for the best part of 20 years but brings back a lot of memories.

Surely the parking and traffic is going to be a major issue?

My memory might be playing tricks on me, but I seem to remember utter chaos around the Durnsford Road junction whenever the Dons were at home.

I have no issue with the Dons moving back to Merton, but I hate the fact the dog track is being lost.

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Car boot sales don't generate council tax revenue while clogging up the traffic ... apartments do generate council tax revenue while clogging up the traffic ... spot the subtle difference ? !!

 

 

Of course, just shows how bent these whole processes are.

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Thanks for your kind words Salty.

 

Yes, it used to be chaotic at the Durnsford Road traffic lights but in those days no-one had yet invented the concept of event-day parking zones as an occasional alternative to permanently-enforced parking zones so I'm sure there'll be at least a quarter-mile ban on matchday parking unless you're a local resident and that will cause more widespread but stodgy traffic instead of a smaller gridlock.

 

Once it became clear the Greyhound Racing Association were in the grip of Galliard Homes, the rest of the greyhound industry has been dreadfully naive in hoping its passionate campaigning to keep the dog track open would work.

 

Instead, at a much earlier stage, that industry should have regarded any remaining time at Wimbledon as a bonus and channelled much more of its energy into identifying a site upon which it could build a 21st century home for that sport relatively near to London ... not easy, I accept, given land prices in that area but there are a few brown-field sites that are never likely to be deemed suitable for housing, notably the large sweep of marshland on the border of the Sutton and Croydon boroughs that I've mentioned in this thread before which was historically the sewage zone for the whole of South London (hence its unsuitability for permanent living across its entire space for health reasons but still realistic to purify a chunk of it for commercial use or leisure facilities).

 

At least in this respect, the original Wimbledon FC did the right thing by facing up quickly and realistically around 1990 about how impossible it would be for them to keep staging top-flight football at their end of Plough Lane although I doubt anyone involved at the time would have predicted the Milton Keynes, Surrey non-league and Kingstonian elements of what's followed.

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it is always interesting how planning for ventures like, I don't know, a speedway track are refused on traffic grounds. Yet other applications like say, I don't know, housing or football stadium applications seem to be easily 'waved through'. This even appears to apply to already very busy and congested roads, thus turning them into long, thin car parks. Hmmm....

Edited by Martin Mauger

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This is an effort to counter the football plans for Wimbledon Stadium - albeit by stock car fans wit some greyhound followers support. The claim is 4,000 signatures for their petition - a pity that was not an average attendance for car racing - or in more golden days when speedway took place there. Gates of 400 are probably nearer the mark these days!

I wonder how many of the 4,000 signatures have ever set foot inside Wimledon Stadium?

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153770572238664&set=a.101503057589o88664.366674.561453663&type=3&theater

Are you serious? Have you ever been to a stock car meeting? The only reason attendances have fallen at Wimbledon is that the only part of the stadium is what was the old back straight. Meeting on 31st of January looks very much like it will be all ticket. Edited by teaboy279

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Apologies for going off topic but I've just noticed you went to Leicester twice this season so what did you think to the track/stadium etc? You must have liked it if you went back again. :lol:

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Apologies for going off topic but I've just noticed you went to Leicester twice this season so what did you think to the track/stadium etc? You must have liked it if you went back again. :lol:

 

I always go to a meeting on the 1st day of the season if I can. Leicester was the only one of the three possible that I hadn't been to and it was day time so meant getting home early. A nice little stadium, well prepared track & slightly more passing than I'd seen on TV/betting streams. The second visit was for the BYC round so nothing to do with the appeal of the stadium, especially as they were cheeky enough to charge £8 when the going rate was £5 and the racecard was an unwieldy A3 size.

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Forwarded message::::

::::::::

From Peter Gray

London, United Kingdom

29 Dec 2015 — A delegation from the Oval Racing community at Wimbledon Stadium is set to meet with Local MP for the area Stephen Hammond (Conservative).
The meeting scheduled for 6th January at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, is planned to be ahead of the review by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Edited by gustix

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