Wimbledon Football Club: A New Hope

Government Inspector blocks Safeway’s store application

Wimbledon Football Club have been handed a life line with the rejection of the Safeway’s superstore planning application on its Plough Lane site by the Government Inspector.

After three year’s consideration, the Government Inspector yesterday rejected the Safeway plans for a supermarket.

This opens the way for the Wimbledon fans and Merton Council, hopefully with Wimbledon Football Club directors, to have discussions with Safeway about returning the site to the club for the development of the club’s long awaited new stadium.

Merton Council Leader, Councillor Andrew Judge said he had already written to Safeway and asked for an urgent pre-Christmas meeting with the company’s management to discuss the future of the site.

Wimbledon Independent Supporter’s Association (WISA) has already prepared an outline plan for the stadium with a capacity of 22,000.

Councillor Judge said: “I know that Safeway’s management will be disappointed with the result of their application. Safeway has long had a presence in the borough with stores in Morden and Wimbledon town centres and they are a part of the Merton community.

“The Inspector’s decision now gives Safeway a unique opportunity to enable Wimbledon Football Club, a club that is respected throughout the football world for its dramatic climb from non-league status to the top flight and of course the famous FA Cup win in 1988, to come home to Merton.

“Safeway are in a position to take positive action to secure the future of Wimbledon Football Club by ensuring that the Plough Lane site, the traditional home of Wimbledon Football Club, becomes the home of the Club again.

“I hope that Safeway will feel able to engage in discussions with the Council, supporters and the Club to see how this dream might be realised. Such an outcome would secure Safeway’s reputation as a company that cares for the local community.

“Safeway would also earn the gratitude of football fans across the country by helping to rescue football from a shift to a US style franchising system.”