London Broncos move to AFC Wimbledon rubber stamped

James Gordon
Jermaine Coleman

London Broncos will ground-share with AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane this season

London Broncos’ move to AFC Wimbledon’s new stadium at Plough Lane has been officially approved.

Merton Council have rubber-stamped the ground-share agreement at the new 9,215-capacity stadium, which was completed late last year just 200 yards away from Wimbledon’s spiritual home at the old Plough Lane.

Fans haven’t yet been able to attend matches at the ground due to coronavirus restrictions.

A vote in March with Dons members resulted in 91.7% voting in favour of welcoming the Broncos to ground-share, though it required revised planning permission due to opposition from local residents.

AFC Wimbledon chief executive Joe Palmer said: “This is brilliant news for us and the start of a whole new era in the history of Wimbledon sport.

“We have the chance to build something really special – on and off the pitch. Rugby League is a fast, exciting game and the Broncos will be playing against top teams.

“It’s a privilege to become partners with a club of such pedigree.

“Off the pitch, the Broncos share the same values as us. They very much want to be a valued and important part of the wider community. There’s so much we have in common – not least the fact that we’ve both been searching for a proper home for far too long.

“I really believe the Broncos will help enrich our lives at Plough Lane.”

London Broncos were forced in to a u-turn over their decision to leave Ealing Trailfinders at the end of last season, returning there to play Championship home games since the return of fans having also played at Rosslyn Park.

They had previously relocated their operations away from Ealing, where they played during their most recent year in Super League in 2019.

Initially, there had been hopes that next weekend’s game against Widnes would be the first Broncos game at the ground, but it remains to be seen whether any rugby league will be played at the ground in 2021.

One of the key considerations of the trust vote was to ensure that Wimbledon fans had the chance to watch their football team live in the stadium before other fans were able to attend games.

Broncos chief executive Jason Loubser, added: “From our first meetings with AFC Wimbledon, and seeing the early stages of the stadium build, it became obvious to us how special the Plough Lane project was.

“Over the course of the last 12 months we have learnt just how important the stadium is to the club, the supporters and the community of Wimbledon and the London Broncos are excited to be able to soon call Plough Lane home.

“The community values that are so close to AFC Wimbledon’s hearts are the same values we also deeply cherish. We very much want to become a valued part of the surrounding infrastructure and neighbourhood and have spent recent months supporting the Dons Trust with their amazing food-bank project and having our players assist on a weekly basis.”

Plough Lane will become the 10th permanent home of the Broncos in their nomadic 41 year existence.

They started at Craven Cottage back in 1980, and also played at Crystal Palace, Chiswick and Barnet prior to the advent of Super League in 1996.

In their maiden year in Super League, they played at The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic football club, and moved on to Brentford’s Griffin Park in 2002.

They have had three different spells at Twickenham Stoop, including six seasons where they were known as Harlequins RL.

Two seasons were spent at The Hive, but for the five seasons prior to this one they had called Ealing Trailfinders home.

As well as the 10 permanent homes, the Broncos have played games at Rosslyn Park this year, as well as at Hendon FC, Wealdstone FC, Leyton Orient and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.