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Football League chief executive David Burns
"We need to find a solution for Wimbledon FC"
 real 14k

Wimbledon captain Neil Ardley
"I don't think the club can survive the way it is"
 real 14k

Wimbledon Supporters spokesman Mark Jones
"We're now investigating moving back to Plough Lane"
 real 14k

Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Wimbledon move blocked
Selhurst Park
Dons fans could do worse than stay at Selhurst Park
Wimbledon fans are celebrating following the Football League's decision to reject the club's application to relocate to Milton Keynes.

The Nationwide League side had proposed a move to a new 50m stadium 70 miles away from their current Selhurst Park home, where they ground-share with Crystal Palace and have been tenants for the last 10 years.

But fans reacted angrily to the proposal for the new all-seater stadium and made their feelings clear at Wimbledon's season-opening win against Birmingham.

To allow this move would have created a precedent at odds with the heritage of football in his country
Football League chief executive David Burns

Now the Football League have stepped in to stop a move planned for the 2003/2004 season, delighting supporters who want a return to the club's traditional home in Merton.

"Following a long and detailed discussion the Board has concluded that the proposed move by Wimbledon Football Club to Milton Keynes cannot be sanctioned," said Football League chief executive David Burns.

"League rules clearly state that, clubs should play in the conurbation from which they derive their name or are traditionally associated unless given the approval to do otherwise by the board."

Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association chairman Kris Stewart said fans will now press on with campaigning for a new home in Merton.

"We're delighted the Football League made the right decision in support of the club and for football in general," said Stewart.

I don't know how they could expect fans to travel - it was far too far
Wimbledon legend Dickie Guy

"We've won the battle, but we haven't won the war - we need to find our home.

"We're working very closely with Merton Council and hope the club will rejoin the process."

The Football League also made it clear it wanted the club to leave Selhurst Park and return to Merton.

"To allow this move would have created a precedent at odds with the heritage of football in his country," said Burns.

"Our football clubs are the heart and soul of their local communities and that is something that cannot be transferred from place to place.

"The Football League will now actively encourage Wimbledon Football Club to work in partnership with their supporters and with Merton Borough Council to find a long-term solution to their homelessness."

Absolutely brilliant

Wimbledon media communications manager Graham Thorley said the club planned to issue a statement on Friday in response to the rejection.

But one former player, Wimbledon legend Dickie Guy, described the news as "absolutely brilliant".

Guy, now 52, was in goal during the Dons' 1974-75 FA Cup run, in which the then non-league outfit knocked out Division One side Burnley at Turf Moor and held the mighty Leeds to a 0-0 fourth-round draw at Elland Road before losing the replay 1-0.

"I'm delighted. I don't know how they could expect fans to travel - it was far too far," said Guy.

"They've (the supporters) had the club all their life and they (the club) were expecting them to make the trip there. It was out of the question."

Links to more Wimbledon stories are at the foot of the page.


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