Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

League Ready to Back Merger; Fans Furious as Wimbledon and QPR Admit Talks

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

League Ready to Back Merger; Fans Furious as Wimbledon and QPR Admit Talks

Article excerpt


WIMBLEDON and Queens Park Rangers are in talks about a merger and the Nationwide League said today that they will "give favourable consideration" to the scheme.

News of the possible merger provoked a furious reaction from supporters of both clubs and there was hope that a rival bid for QPR might emerge to keep the club a separate entity.

At the moment, however, the only plan being considered is for Wimbledon and QPR to form one club.

An outline proposal of how the new club might work was discussed at a meeting of the Nationwide League's executive board this morning.

A League statement said: "The board indicated that while they will give favourable consideration to any proposal, they must also bear in mind the implications for the league competition and for the supporters of both clubs.

The board will also seek legal advice on this matter."

The use of the expression "favourable consideration" is a clear indication that there is a real chance of this merger going ahead, although the clubs, who had been caught off guard by the story breaking, both tried to play down the affair today.

Wimbledon and Rangers both confirmed today that discussions had been going on for a number of weeks but Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel said: "We are nowhere near to finalising anything.

"We had already planned a meeting with our supporter organisations before our game on Sunday to discuss again how best to take our club forward."

A statement from Loftus Road PLC, the parent company who own Rangers, added: "It is true that we are in very early stage discussions with Wimbledon about a possible merger.

"It is not helpful that the news has leaked as we were intent on exploring the opportunity in a controlled and sensible manner which included sending a letter to all season ticket holders, club members and shareholders asking them their opinion.

"The talks with Wimbledon will only continue if there is a general approval from our supporter base.

"Our initial view is that in the current financial environment the idea would have merit."

Speculation that a third London club, Brentford, could also become involved were dismissed by chairman Ron Noades today.

Noades said: "We are not interested in any merger with or takeover of QPR.

We were in talks with QPR about a possible ground share at Loftus Road but those cannot proceed while QPR are in administration. If QPR and Wimbledon merge we would be interested to talk to them about a possible ground share if we do manage to move to a new home ourselves."

Negotiations about the merger are well advanced.

They have involved QPR owner Chris Wright and Wimbledon owner Bjorn Gjelsten and the plan is for the new, joint club to kick of next season.

The new club would play at Loftus Road, the QPR ground, but the League would have to decide in which division the club would play. …

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