Plough Lane

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Plough Lane
New Plough Lane
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
OwnerAFC Wimbledon
OperatorAFC Wimbledon
Capacity9,300[2]
Construction
Broke ground2019
Opened3 November 2020[1]
ArchitectKSS Design Group
BuilderBuckingham Group
Tenants
AFC Wimbledon
Website
ploughlanestadium.co.uk

Plough Lane is a newly built football stadium in Wimbledon, south-west London, which has been the home of AFC Wimbledon since 3 November 2020.[1]

History[edit]

Wimbledon F.C. played its matches at the original Plough Lane stadium, approximately 200 yards (183 metres) from the current site, from 1912 until 1991 when it 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.[3]

Development[edit]

Construction proceeded with the permanent west stand initially, with main entry from the south off Plough Lane. This is a four-story structure with general admission access from the first floor, and hospitality above. This structure seats about 4,500 spectators; semi-permanent stands on the other three sides brings initial capacity to 9,000.[4][5] 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.[6]

The plans for the football stadium were approved unanimously by Merton Council on 10 December 2015.[7][8] Clearance of the site in preparation for the new football stadium and housing was begun on 16 March 2018.[9] The stadium's opening was initially planned for summer 2019, but the current target is the start of the 2020-21 season.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15]

The first match ended in a 2-2 draw.[16] The first ever goal at the new stadium was scored by Wimbledon's Joe Pigott in the 18th minute of that match.[17]

Sponsorship[edit]

Current sponsors for the various stands at the stadium are:

  • RyGroup Stand - As they had at Kingsmeadow under the name RyGas, the RyGroup of tradesmens' services are sponsoring the east stand opposite the main stand.[18]
  • North Stand - Sponsored by Cherry Red Records, who had been stadium sponsors at Kingsmeadow.
  • West Stand - Sponsored by Cappagh, a local construction group. [19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Palmer, Joe (29 September 2020). "An update from our Chief Executive". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  2. ^ "We Are Wimbledon". wearewimbledon.com. AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  3. ^ "New stadium a step closer". AFC Wimbledon. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Stadium update (June 2019): Part 2 – stadium design". YouTube. AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Home Sweet Home". AFC Wimbledon. 8 July 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  6. ^ "DON'T MISS OUR HISTORIC RETURN TO PLOUGH LANE" (PDF). wearewimbledon.com. AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Go-ahead for new stadium". AFC Wimbledon. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Wimbledon's Plough Lane return approved by planners". BBC News. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Demolition work starts to clear the way for new stadium". AFC Wimbledon. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  10. ^ Hurst, Samantha (2019-08-06). "AFC Wimbledon Is Now Seeking £2 Million on Seedrs to Help Finance Return to a New Stadium on Plough Lane". Crowdfund Insider. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  11. ^ "Plough Lane - land transfer complete". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  12. ^ Collings, Simon (12 June 2019). "AFC Wimbledon hope to crowdfund £7m towards new Plough Lane stadium". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Plough Lane: AFC Wimbledon say they need further £11m to complete new stadium". BBC Sport. 26 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Stadium Announcement". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Dons return to Plough Lane in November". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  16. ^ "AFC Wimbledon 2-2 Doncaster Rovers". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  17. ^ https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/afc-wimbledon-vs-doncaster-plough-lane-live-stream-online-2020-latest-score-team-news-b44141.html
  18. ^ "Today we visit the new @AFCWimbledon ground #NewPloughPlane to see @The_RyGroup Stand". Ry. Twitter. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Ivor's message of thanks to sponsors ahead of landmark night". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 26 November 2020.

External links[edit]