London unlikely to play at Wimbledon in front of crowds until at least July

James Gordon
Jermaine Coleman

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

London Broncos will not be able to welcome fans to their proposed new home at Plough Lane until after AFC Wimbledon’s first game in front of a crowd.

The 9,215-capacity stadium was opened in November and while the football team have been playing there since the start of December, they are yet to welcome any fans due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Dons fans have until March 26 to submit their vote as to whether they agree with the proposal for London to ground-share at the new stadium, with a decision expected to be announced on March 31.

The Dons Trust board, which operates the fan-owned club, has recommended members vote in favour of the move, which will bring in extra revenue between £200,000 and £500,000 a year in rent and matchday income, depending on if the Broncos return to Super League.

London announced last week that their Challenge Cup opener against Keighley Cougars will be played at Rosslyn Park, where they have been training since leaving Ealing Trailfinders in the off-season.

London Broncos left the Trailfinders Sports Ground in the off-season

They are scheduled to play two more home games – against Oldham and Newcastle – before restrictions are lifted to enable fans in to stadia across the country on May 17.

But they will not be able to welcome fans at Plough Lane until AFC Wimbledon have been able to do so – and with their Football League season due to finish on May 8, they are unlikely to play there until a pre-season friendly in July, or even wait until next season kicks off in August.

The Broncos are scheduled to play three more home games – against Dewsbury, Whitehaven and Swinton – before the end of June, as well as taking on York (July 11) and Widnes (July 25).

Their home game with Toulouse is scheduled for August 8, the day after the start of the 2021/22 football season.

It remains unclear whether the Broncos will remain at Rosslyn Park for the foreseeable future, or immediately move to Plough Lane and play behind closed doors should the vote be successful.

But having played at three different grounds in the last decade, Twickenham Stoop, The Hive and Ealing, there will be hope that a move to Plough Lane will bring some stability and consistency – with the initial agreement expected to be for a minimum of 10 years, albeit with a break clause in the early years.

The Broncos said: “As we have done throughout this process we will continue to allow the Dons to lead the media output as a matter of courtesy to their Football Club and Supporters.”

Wimbledon fans have also been assured that when all restrictions have been lifted, the football club will be the first to play at the ground when full capacity is allowed.

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