The following article appeared in the club’s official matchday programme for the game against Accrington Stanley (played on January 24, 2015).
The future of Kingsmeadow
Kris Stewart has an update from the Dons Trust Board on the future of The Cherry Red Records Stadium and financing the club’s return to Merton.
Last month the Dons Trust Board (DTB) confirmed that we have been talking to various people about what to do with Kingsmeadow when we move to a new stadium. The primary reason for doing this is that we have put a lot of time, energy and money into our current home and we need to see what we can get out of it to help pay for our new one. We didn’t only pay over £2 million to buy it – we’ve spent a lot of our own money fixing it, and a lot more improving it. So the DTB has a serious responsibility to ensure that we get the most from it, to do our best to help fund our dream move back to Plough Lane.
Of course, we didn’t build this place, and it isn’t only our home, but Kingstonian’s as well. And we’ve always said – and meant – that we would support them as best we could and take care to do them no harm (or at least as little harm as possible – let’s be realistic, having us playing in Kingston was never going to help them).
We’ve had three different proposals put to us. We haven’t made any decision yet on what to recommend to you. But the idea that has been talked about publicly is of Chelsea’s buying the ground to use for youth and women’s games. There’s no secret here – it’s been confirmed by Chelsea and by us that there are discussions going on.
At the same time as we confirmed this, Kingstonian’s current owners announced that they believe their club’s long-term interests would best be served by moving away from Kingsmeadow. Obviously that’s for Kingstonian to decide, but it’s equally obvious that a tenant-free Kingsmeadow offers us the best chance of a highest possible return on what we’ve put in. If there is a deal available that suits us and helps us to help Kingstonian, my guess is that there’s a good chance we’ll recommend it to you.
So what happens next? Well, we hope there will be something concrete – not decided (that’s your job) but ready to discuss – in the next few weeks. Erik will continue to lead on getting the details worked out. Once we have something to discuss, we will explain it to you in detail.
As we mentioned in our original announcement, any sale of Kingsmeadow is what we call a Restricted Action under the Dons Trust constitution. There are specific and demanding rules about exactly how such a thing can be approved – there must be at least two separate meetings and two separate votes, with high turnouts and large majorities. Mark Davis and Secretary David Hall are working on making sure we go through that process properly – not just within those rules, but in as inclusive and engaging a way as we can. We are committed to serious and deep discussion and debate among members on this.
What about Kingstonian? David Growns is going to make sure that we engage with as much of the Kingstonian community as we can – after all, we all know that a football club is much more than simply its directors.
At the recent Dons Trust AGM, Erik said that building the new stadium will cost well over £20 million – so no matter how good a deal he does for us on Kingsmeadow, we’re going to need a bit more cash! We’ve talked in the past about a contribution from Galliard, a Community Share issue, bank loans and stadium naming rights, among other sources we are looking at, and again, we hope to have more to say in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, as we know, every bit of funding helps the club, the Trust and the Foundation, so do please support the Boys from the Backroom event on 6 February, and also the sponsored Walk Further for Wimbledon on 16 April and the AFC Wimbledon Minithon and Family Fun Day at Wimbledon Park on 19 April.