AFC Wimbledon plan return to Plough Lane
The country's best known and most successful phoenix club, AFC Wimbledon, are making plans to return to their spiritual home in Plough Lane, Wimbledon. They currently play at the Kingsmeadow stadium in Kingston on Thames.
They would use the site of the Greyhound Stadium, just yards from the original ground. It is believed that the project would take around 10 years to complete and would cost somewhere in the region of £100m. For the past three years the club have been working with The Newridge Group, a property developer based in Wimbledon.
It is intended to build a stadium capable of holding 12,000 fans with scope for a capacity increase to 20,000. Some of the costs would be offset by building housing and a hotel on the site. It is also envisaged that the ground would be shared with another sport, although this would not be greyhound racing. Usually this means egg chasing.
The first step would be to purchase the site which is currently owned by the Greyhound Racing Association. Greyhound racing has been held there since 1928 and it is the home to the sport's biggest race, the Derby. Greyhound racing has suffered from something of a seedy image and a number of tracks in London and elsewhere have closed in recent years.
Even so, Irish businessman Paschal Taggart wants to build a new four-tier stadium of a cost of £30m to accommodate greyhound racing. He argues that the most famous and iconic greyhound racing venue in the UK must be retained.
Historically a number of venues have combined football and greyhound racing. It provides another way of overcoming a central financial challenge of football grounds: they are expensive capital assets which are under utilised, Greyhound racing can be held on evenings when the ground is not needed for football.
The most famous historical example was the old Wembley Stadium. Chelsea's ground at Stamford Bridge hosted greyhound racing from 1937 to 1966. Other examples include the old Poole Town ground, the former Bristol Rovers ground at Eastville and the Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow which was once home to Clyde FC.
The disadvantage of having a greyhound track is the same as having an athletics track or a speedway track around the ground: it distances the spectators from the action and makes the spectacle less attractive. Hence, why AFC Wimbledon do not want to host greyhound racing if they return to Plough Lane.