Plough Lane

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The Cherry Red Records Stadium
Plough Lane
Plough Lane double rainbow.jpg
LocationPlough Lane, Wimbledon
Coordinates51°25′52.91″N 0°11′12.01″W / 51.4313639°N 0.1866694°W / 51.4313639; -0.1866694Coordinates: 51°25′52.91″N 0°11′12.01″W / 51.4313639°N 0.1866694°W / 51.4313639; -0.1866694
Public transitNational Rail Haydons Road, Earlsfield, Wimbledon
District Line Wimbledon, District Line Wimbledon Park, Northern Line Tooting Broadway
OwnerAFC Wimbledon
OperatorAFC Wimbledon
Capacity9,215
Construction
Broke ground2019
Opened3 November 2020[1]
ArchitectKSS Design Group
BuilderBuckingham Group
Tenants
AFC Wimbledon (2020–present)

Plough Lane – named The Cherry Red Records Stadium for sponsorship reasons[2] – is a football stadium in Wimbledon, south-west London, which has been the home of AFC Wimbledon since 3 November 2020.[1] A groundshare with rugby league side London Broncos was approved in mid-2021.[3]

Stands[edit]

  • West Stand – 4,267 capacity
  • South Stand (safe standing terrace) – 1,092 capacity
  • East Stand – 2,391 capacity
  • North Stand (away end) – 1,465 capacity

History[edit]

Wimbledon F.C. played its matches at the original Plough Lane stadium from 1912 until 1991. AFC Wimbledon's new stadium lies approximately 200 yards further east. After 1991 Wimbledon F.C. began a ground-share with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, with the intention of moving to a new all-seater stadium elsewhere at a later date due to the original Plough Lane stadium being considered unsuitable for conversion into a modern all-seater stadium. Numerous locations within and beyond the borders of Merton were considered for a possible new stadium, but none of these came to fruition, and in 2003 the original Wimbledon club relocated 70 miles north to Milton Keynes, being rebranded as Milton Keynes Dons the following year.

In 2002 a phoenix club, AFC Wimbledon, was formed by a section of the club's supporters after the Football Association gave Wimbledon F.C. permission to move to Milton Keynes. In the meantime, AFC Wimbledon played at Kingsmeadow, at that time the home of Kingstonian.

Since its inception, AFC Wimbledon stated that one of its primary aims was to return to Merton, with a new stadium close to what it regards as its "spiritual home" of the original Plough Lane. This aim formed the basis of a project to create a new purpose-built stadium on the site of the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, located approximately 200 yards from the original Plough Lane football stadium, where the original Wimbledon side played for 80 years.

Plans to develop the greyhound stadium site as either a multi-purpose stadium or as a football stadium were publicised frequently by the club and the media prior to 2013. In 2013 AFC Wimbledon announced that discussions were underway with Merton Council over a joint bid for the greyhound stadium and the surrounding land, in cooperation with developer Galliard Homes, to build a new football stadium, 600 residential properties and a range of community facilities.[4]

Development[edit]

Construction proceeded with the permanent west stand initially, with main entry from the south off Plough Lane. This is a four-storey structure with general admission access from the first floor, and hospitality above. This structure seats 4,267 spectators; semi-permanent stands on the other three sides brings initial capacity to 9,215.[5][6] Among the semi-permanent seating, the most vocal home fans will be in the south, which will include a safe standing area; a family area along the east; and away fans will be in the north stand, which is isolated with its own entry.[7] A secondary entrance for home fans in the south and east stands is located on the easterly pedestrian-only street, Greyhound Parade.

The plans for the football stadium were approved unanimously by Merton Council on 10 December 2015.[8][9] Clearance of the site in preparation for the new football stadium and housing was begun on 16 March 2018.[10] The stadium's opening was initially planned for summer 2019, but did not take place until 3 November 2020.[11] The land's freehold was transferred to an AFC Wimbledon subsidiary on 24 December 2018, among other transactions that also formally transferred ownership of Kingsmeadow to Chelsea.[12]

Finances[edit]

The club thus purchased and cleared the site of the former Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium in anticipation of construction. In 2019 it was announced that a minimum of £2 million in crowdfunding would be needed to construct a scaled-down version of the original design with a single permanent stand and an initial capacity of 9,000; as of August 2019, the £2 million mark had been raised through Seedrs.[13] In November 2019 it emerged that financing of a final £11m needed to complete the ground as envisioned was not forthcoming; the club's fan ownership initially considered scaling down the project, or accepting outside investment into the club by relinquishing ownership to meet the shortfall.[14] However, alternate financing was quickly raised by club supporters by way of a bond issue which raised over £5 million. In May 2020, the final remaining financing needed to sign all construction contracts was confirmed following key investment from local businessman Nick Robertson.[15]

Panoramic view of the stadium from the south corner of the east stand, looking across to the west stand

Opening[edit]

AFC Wimbledon played their first match at the ground on 3 November 2020 against Doncaster Rovers, although the formal handover by the construction company was not expected until mid December.[16]

The first match ended in a 2–2 draw.[17] The first ever goal at the new stadium was scored by Wimbledon's Joe Pigott in the 18th minute of that match.[18]

In December 2020, the Dons Trust announced that they were discussing a potential groundshare agreement with Rugby League side London Broncos.[19] A vote by the Trust membership in March 2021 resulted in 91.7% of those voting in favour.[20] It remains subject to revised planning permission which is opposed by a group of residents.[21]

On 25 March 2021, an NHS COVID-19 vaccination centre opened in the stadium's event space; a number of the first to be vaccinated were club supporters.[22]

The first match to take place at the ground with a capacity crowd was AFC Wimbledon's 3–3 draw against Bolton Wanderers on 14 August 2021.[23] The largest attendance at Plough Lane of 8,224 was recorded on 16 October 2021, in Wimbledon's 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.[24]

Sponsorship[edit]

Current sponsors for the various parts of the stadium are:

The stadium as a whole is sponsored by Cherry Red Records since 16 September 2021; the company had previously been stadium sponsors at Kingsmeadow.[2]

  • The Ry Stand – As they had at Kingsmeadow under the name RyGas, the RyGroup of tradesmens' services are sponsoring the east stand opposite the main stand.[25]
  • The Cherry Red Records End – The north, away, stand.[26]
  • The Cappagh Stand – The west, or main, stand; sponsored by Cappagh, a local construction group.[27]
  • The South London Movers Stand – The south, home-supporters' stand; sponsored by South London Movers, a local bespoke-removals company. [28]

Expansion[edit]

The ground has planning permission to be expanded to 20,000 spectators.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Palmer, Joe (29 September 2020). "An update from our Chief Executive". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b "New stadium sponsors announced". afcwimbledon.co.uk. AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  3. ^ Media, Broncos (16 July 2021). "Exciting groundshare partnership with AFC Wimbledon approved". London Broncos RL. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  4. ^ "New stadium a step closer". AFC Wimbledon. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Stadium update (June 2019): Part 2 – stadium design". YouTube. AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Home Sweet Home". AFC Wimbledon. 8 July 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  7. ^ "DON'T MISS OUR HISTORIC RETURN TO PLOUGH LANE" (PDF). wearewimbledon.com. AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  8. ^ "Go-ahead for new stadium". AFC Wimbledon. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Wimbledon's Plough Lane return approved by planners". BBC News. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Demolition work starts to clear the way for new stadium". AFC Wimbledon. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  11. ^ Hurst, Samantha (6 August 2019). "AFC Wimbledon Is Now Seeking £2 Million on Seedrs to Help Finance Return to a New Stadium on Plough Lane". Crowdfund Insider. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Plough Lane – land transfer complete". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  13. ^ Collings, Simon (12 June 2019). "AFC Wimbledon hope to crowdfund £7m towards new Plough Lane stadium". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Plough Lane: AFC Wimbledon say they need further £11m to complete new stadium". BBC Sport. 26 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  15. ^ "Stadium Announcement". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Dons return to Plough Lane in November". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  17. ^ "AFC Wimbledon 2–2 Doncaster Rovers". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  18. ^ "AFC Wimbledon denied in first Plough Lane game - as it happened!". 3 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Following preliminary discussions with @LondonBroncosRL we have emailed a survey and Q&A..." The Dons Trust. Twitter. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  20. ^ "Outcome of SGM resolution re London Broncos" (PDF). The Dons Trust. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Should Rugby be Allowed at AFC Wimbledon's Ground?". The Wimbledon Society. 16 May 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  22. ^ "NHS Covid-19 vaccination centre opens at Plough Lane". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  23. ^ "AFC Wimbledon 3-3 Bolton Wanderers". BBC Sport.
  24. ^ "AFC Wimbledon 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday, League One: Report, ratings and verdict • London Football Scene". 16 October 2021.
  25. ^ "Today we visit the new @AFCWimbledon ground #NewPloughPlane to see @The_RyGroup Stand". Ry. Twitter. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  26. ^ "AFC WIMBLEDON| Cherry Red Sponsor Away Stand at Plough Lane". Cherry Red Records. 26 November 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  27. ^ "Ivor's message of thanks to sponsors ahead of landmark night". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  28. ^ "South London Movers: South Stand Sponsors". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 12 August 2021.

External links[edit]

  1. ^ "Plough Lane Stadium". Wimbedon, London: Wimbledon FC. Archived from the original on 15 May 2020.