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

London Broncos are set to ground-share with AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane

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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  1. I was at the First Fulham game against Wigan, still in my late teens working in commercial radio in the North West, that day I will never forget, the atmosphere from the genuine first time supporters of Rugby League and so many complete families. I fell in love with the club and since then I have followed the club through every move, favourites being at Charlton Athletic & The Stoop! Some season I attended every home and away game, 250 miles each way driving on my own to home games, made most Academy games often on Saturday’s back in the North as I saw that as how the club would really develop. I sponsored many players over the seasons, and match balls! but what support did I really see from The RFL?

    All I witnessed was players move North and most times without Our Club London receiving a fee! Just look at how many young players have been developed to Our Game!

    Working alongside my late friend Peter Deakin we both did an Australian sports management course, Peter flourished, and it was a joy to see what he did for Bradford Bulls & later Saracens, with Nigel Wray. At the time I wrote to those running our great game suggesting investing in London, as more newspapers moved to London, and many major sponsors were based in Our Capital, to invest! with London into a ground, make it an RFL London HQ based at the ground, and a Centre of Excellence for the ever growing sport in London and the South, which met with silence?

    Recently writing about London Broncos and the player drain, one fan in the north replied, even if London fails we will still get the best players in the south? head in the ground! I don’t know what The London Broncos would have done without Mr David Hughes and all his private personal investment, this move to Wimbledon could be the final spin of the dice, it can and should be a huge success, all it needs is more general support, the club needs to be back in Super League, relegation last season was cruel, the way it happened, as well as not receiving the opportunity to be back in Super League. We have problems in our great game currently, if we keep our heads in the sand and as many would want to remain an M62 corridor sport, how long before we return to being part time?

    Just wish I had been able to carry the banner of Peter Deakin, I spent some time with Warrington doing work experience in administration, alongside my job in commercial radio, I even had an interview at Wigan, but having that same fire in my stomach as Peter Deakin, I think I was a little too much for them then.

    Let’s hope Wimbledon really works! the World Cup Challenge matches at The Stoop were something truly special, money was spent on Capital Radio, thinking out of the box! Come on Super League and The RFL look at the bigger picture when the move to Plough Lane Wimbledon FC New Modern Stadium comes around, let Our Capital City know what a great game we have in Rugby League!

    • Just a brief hello from melbourne Australia & you bring back memories of my friendship with Peter Deakin,now sadly departed. It was about 1982-83 when we first communicated, he was in the Manchester police & i was a member of the board of the South Australian Rugby League & President of the Northern Districts Rugby League Club. Bottom line is that he & his family came to Australia & stayed with me & my family for about 2 weeks & he even played some games for our club,the mighty dragons. Had a great time & when he left Adelaide our club gave him a good send off which took about 2 days to recover from. We were both ambitious amateur administrators then & I followed his career which took in stints at Bradford & later Saracens, before his untimely demise. Personally, I also did a sports management course, after which I was appointed General Manager of the Victorian Rugby League. Very challenging position to say the least, especially as Melbourne is a fanatical Australian Rules base, but we made progress, introducing the code to universities & expanding to new outer suburbs of the rapidly growing city via junior clubs etc & when I finished there in 1992 I was happy at what I had achieved. I moved into the property industry professionally thereafter & now just watch the Storm play in the NRL. Thanks for the chance to contribute to your article & my only final comment is that I really wonder what the long term future for League is going to be like, especially as Union has now gone professional & offers the best athletes an opportunity previously only available in League. Probably not so applicable here in Australia where League is still very much the pre-eminent code, but maybe things are different in the northern hemisphere where Japan is now developing professional leagues & there seems to be a never ending tap of funds in France & the UK. Best regards Peter Sparrow-Clarke

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