COUNCIL LEADER REJECTS CLUB’S DEMAND

Merton Council Leader Councillor Andrew Judge has hit back hard following WFC Chairman Charles Koppel’s claim he had given the Council two months to find a Merton based ground for the football club.

Councillor Judge said: “Wimbledon fans deserve to keep their own Club in or near the Borough. They also deserve the facts.

“I can tell you this – I met Mr Koppel just two days before his remarks at the last match of the season, and he didn’t give the Council any ultimatum to find a stadium site. Most of our meeting was taken up discussing a football academy. The only talk in respect of a stadium was a request from the Club for a joint statement to the effect that the only suitable site in the Borough was the Greyhound Stadium in Plough Lane. Mr Koppel said that he intended to take the responsibility for not proceeding with that site.

Councillor Judge said: “Every time the Club is in trouble with its supporters club officials try to lay blame on the Council to divert attention and to try to get the fans off their back. Sam Hammam tried that trick and it looks as if Mr Koppel and Manager Terry Burton are following in his footsteps.

“There is very little reality in what they say.

“Well I have my own challenge for Mr Koppel. Stop just talking about your stadium, but develop practical plans to obtain land capable of development. The Council will do everything it can to help the Club, but is not prepared to take the blame for inaction by the Club or plans to move else where.

“Let’s look at the facts – the only time WFC ever lodged a planning application for a new stadium was way back in the 1980’s when the Council agreed to give conditional planning permission for land in Colliers Wood. That permission eventually died – because the club did not take it forward and the land is now in other use.

“Since then they have looked twice at land in Beddington, once on their own initiative and once when the Council introduced the Club to Sutton Council – but again it wasn’t taken forward.

“We should also remember it was the Council that jointly funded a study into Wimbledon Stadium with the Greyhound Racing Association. A study that concluded it was a feasible option to build a stadium that could combine football and greyhound racing. The Club contended that the costs of construction would be too great and did not take it forward.

“Sam Hammam decided that was the end of the road for a stadium and started talking about a trainin