Dear Ronan,
On behalf of the Board of Wimbledon Football Club, I am writing to
provide you with an update on our efforts to find a suitable and
permanent home for the Club.
The current situation is that we are continuing to talk to the football
authorities about our proposed move to Milton Keynes as we want to try to
have this matter resolved within the football world. You all know that
the Board of the Football League has rejected our request to be allowed
to move. However, the Club does not believe that the matter was
considered properly and is seeking a fair hearing. Reference has been
made to a letter sent by the Club's lawyers in relation to public
statements made prior to the Football League Board meeting of 16 August
2001. A letter was sent to the Board of the Football League reminding
them of our basic right to a fair and impartial hearing based on fact. It
is vital that the Club's unique problems are understood.
The Club continues to pursue the Milton Keynes option because it is the
only serious, detailed and adequately funded plan currently on the table.
However, if a local solution could be found that provides a similar
platform, if this solution were one that the Club could afford and one
that would secure the Club's future, then the Club would pursue it. The
Club is continuing actively to seek such a local solution.
Merton Council has publicly stated its determination to help the Club
find a suitable home in or around its Borough. The Club is very grateful
for this public show of support but, to date, no viable site has been
identified. The Greyhound Stadium and the original Plough Lane sites
continue to be mooted as being suitable. Neither of these sites is owned
by the Club, and even if they were found to be for sale, neither presents
a proposition which the Club could afford as it would be required to meet
the full cost of acquisition and development.
The Club has neither the assets nor the income with which to finance any
development of a new ground. There should be no doubt that our financial
plight is extremely serious. The only people funding the Club are the
owners. Cash flow requirements call for another £7m to be invested in the
Club this season alone. The Club needs the security of knowing that an
adequately funded stadium is available to provide a foundation for the
future, whether in Merton, its surrounds or in Milton Keynes.
The Club notes Councillor Andrew Judge's response to a letter from me
asking whether or not the Council would support the development of a
stadium on Prince George's Playing Fields, together with the associated
financing development we would require. This was a genuine request for
guidance given the fact that this is land that is immediately available
to the Club. The letter asked what the Council's position would be if the
Club were to seek planning permission for the site. It asked whether Cur
Judge felt the Council could help the Club, as it had the All England
Lawn Tennis Club when its new Number 1 court was built on land that
previously held Metropolitan Open Land status. Cur Judge has made it
clear that, in his opinion, the Council will neither support nor
entertain such a proposal.
By contrast, the Milton Keynes proposal is a very real and immediate
solution to our homelessness and one that has broad support in the area.
The project is substantially self-financing because of the surrounding
(enabling) development that will pay for a new state of the art stadium.
We believe that the stadium would offer a very exciting prospect for the
Club, as it would provide the platform upon which to build the Club's
future and to return it to top-flight football.
The views of certain supporters in relation to our resolving the Club's
homelessness are being aired in public. The views of others are not.
Shortly after the Club announced its proposal to move to a new home
ground, WISA informed the Club that it would not meet at all until Milton
Keynes was irrevocably rejected as an option. It is the Club's
understanding that this remains WISA's official position. In the absence
of a viable and adequately funded alternative, outright rejection of
Milton Keynes is not an undertaking that can be given. Through this
stance WISA excludes itself from any direct involvement with the Club.
Whilst we all seem to have different views on the current situation and
its potential resolution, the only way in which we will be able to
clearly understand each other's issues is through open and constructive
dialogue. In order to facilitate this dialogue with supporters, the Club
would like to establish a liaison committee that will be the forum for
discussion. Anyone who is currently an adult member of the Club can apply
to join this group by writing to the Club (for the attention of the
Official Wimbledon Fans Forum) giving details of their involvement with
the Club. A working party can then be formed with the responsibility for
formally constituting the Official Wimbledon Fans Forum and electing its
officers. WISA is invited to participate in this forum.
The Club would like to discuss with the Official Wimbledon Fans Forum the
many issues that surround the move to a new home. The forum will have
direct and regular access to the Board of the Club.
On Saturday a small number of fans demonstrated in the Main Stand. Ground
Regulations were broken and the Club has received complaints about this.
Whilst we recognise everyone's right to peaceful and lawful protest, we
cannot accept unlawful actions by some fans that are to the detriment of
the enjoyment and safety of others. We urge everyone to consider the
implications of such actions.
Finally, many supporters have contacted us over the past six weeks
commenting on matters relating to the proposed move. I apologise for not
having responded to everyone in person, but all letters and e-mails have
been read and I am grateful for the many constructive suggestions that
they contain.
We will continue to update you as things progress.
Yours sincerely
Charles Koppel