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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Wimbledon move gets go-ahead
Work is in progress at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes

Wimbledon have been given permission to play their home matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes.

The Division One club got the go-ahead on Friday from the Football League and are expected to play their first game at the ground against Burnley on 27 September.

The stadium had already satisfied safety criteria, but League lawyers spent Friday examining the small print in the club's tenancy agreement before giving the final all-clear.

Football League head of communications John Nagle explained why the move had been sanctioned.

"Having inspected the National Hockey Stadium at length and assured ourselves that the appropriate contractual arrangements are in place, the Football League are satisfied that it is a suitable venue to stage matches," said Nagle.

It has been a very difficult time for everyone involved with Wimbledon - the players, the staff and the fans
Wimbledon's administrators

"Therefore the League has authorised Wimbledon to play at the stadium from 27 September, subject to them receiving the appropriate safety certificate.

"This should give the club the opportunity to establish themselves within the Milton Keynes area and help resolve their financial difficulties so they can hopefully exit administration in the near future."

The League agreed the facilities at Milton Keynes meet the required standards, but wanted clarification over "a number of outstanding issues" relating to documentation surrounding the club's tenancy at the stadium.

Wimbledon's joint administrators - Andy Hosking and Nick Wood, partners at Grant Thornton - were delighted with the news.

"We are pleased to have received confirmation that the National Hockey Stadium has been sanctioned for use as the home ground of Wimbledon Football Club - subject to the safety certificate being issued by the local authority," said a statement.

"It has been a very difficult time for all the people involved with Wimbledon - the players, staff and the fans, and I would like to thank them all for their support and patience over the last three months.

"Of course I also acknowledge that there will be a significant number of fans in the Wimbledon area who will be disappointed with the move.

"Nevertheless, the survival of Wimbledon FC is our paramount concern."

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