Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wimbledon Plough Ahead to Complete Reincarnation; Football Correspondent

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wimbledon Plough Ahead to Complete Reincarnation; Football Correspondent

Article excerpt

Byline: Giuseppe Muro

AFC WIMBLEDON have achieved much in their relatively short existence. Rising up from the Combined Counties League into the Football League in just nine years was their biggest feat.

But achieving their next goal a return to their traditional home 22 years after leaving Merton would rank alongside that. The League Two club want to build a ground just 300 yards from their old stadium on Plough Lane, where they played for 79 years before moving in 1991.

They have submitted a proposal to redevelop Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium and are optimistic of relocating to an 11,000-seat stadium within five years.

For Wimbledon chief executive Erik Samuelson, the move would represent the next chapter in the remarkable history of a club that reformed just over a decade ago.

"You could say it is the completion of a circle in a romantic story," he said. "Since we started in 2002 we have always said we want to go back to our home borough. When everyone talks about Plough Lane, they mean the site at the other end of the road where the old ground was. But before Wimbledon played there, they actually played on the current site of the greyhound stadium, so it really would be going home."

The original Wimbledon left Plough Lane when the club's owners sold the ground in a move that led to their relocation to Milton Keynes in 2003. Since AFC were formed in 2002, the fan-owned club have targeted a return to SW17.

The move, which is estimated to cost [pounds sterling]16million, is still in the early stages. Merton Council asked for suggestions of how sites in the borough could be redeveloped and Wimbledon are now waiting for independent inspectors to review the club's idea before applying for planning permission.

They hope that process will begin in February and are optimistic of moving in for the start of the 2017-18 season. …

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