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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 14:40 GMT
FA backs Wimbledon appeal
Wimbledon fans appeal against the move to Milton Keynes at a recent game against Birmingham
Wimbledon fans oppose the move to Milton Keynes
Wimbledon have won the right to have their case for moving to Milton Keynes re-examined by the Football League.

A three-man Football Association arbitration panel ruled that the league needed to look at Wimbledon's proposals in greater detail before reaching a decision.

The club's chairman, Charles Koppel, wants to relocate to a 28,000-seater stadium in Milton Keynes - more than 50 miles from their traditional home in Merton.


Wimbledon's fans, the majority of residents in Merton and football fans throughout the country are against the move
Andrew Judge
Merton Council leader
Meanwhile, Merton Council has urged Wimbledon to consider moving back to its former home at Plough Lane.

Former Dons' owner Sam Hammam sold Plough Lane home 11 years ago.

Merton Council leader Andrew Judge said: "When the case is re-heard by the Football League, we are confident it will once again be rejected.

"Wimbledon's fans, the majority of residents in Merton and football fans throughout the country are against the move.

"Merton Council is ready to sit down with WFC at any time to talk about the potential investors for a consortium to develop a stadium at Plough Lane and bring WFC back to Merton."

Supporters confident

Plough Lane is derelict and is now owned by Safeway.

But the supermarket chain has been refused planning permission on the site and the council has already been contacted by a potential buyer.

Kris Stewart, chairman of the Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association, claimed the decision of the arbitration panel was a victory for the club's fans.


We welcome today's decision - it wholly bears out our view that we were not given a full and fair hearing when this matter was looked at previously
Charles Koppel
Wimbledon chairman
"It's the best decision we could have hoped for. Koppel has not been given permission to move the club to Milton Keynes.

"He'll have to go back to the Football League and we know the decision they will make.

"The Football League is quite clear on what football clubs mean to their communities.

"We think that Koppel should stop pouring money into this pointless exercise."

Koppel praises decision

But Koppel argues that the club is losing 20,000 a day and needs to move to Milton Keynes to stay in existence.

He said that the decision of the arbitration panel was a victory for him.

"We welcome today's decision. It wholly bears out our view that we were not given a full and fair hearing when this matter was looked at previously," he said.

"We will now be discussing with the League how to take this matter forward in the most appropriate manner.

"Our only desire is to get a fair and impartial hearing based on the facts.

"This is an important, complicated issue and it is vital that the uniqueness of Wimbledon's position is fully understood."

The arbitration panel comprised Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, York City chairman Douglas Craig and Charles Hollander QC.

Wimbledon have been homeless since they left Plough Lane to groundshare at Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar
"The club will probably take some heart from the decision"
Karthi Gnanasegaram reports for BBC Sport
"Today's decision throws the ball back into the leagues court"
Links to more Wimbledon stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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