AFC Wimbledon secures financing to complete stadium

English League One football club AFC Wimbledon has secured a loan facility to complete the financing of its new stadium at Plough Lane.

Chief executive Joe Palmer confirmed that the club has agreed an 18-month bridging loan of £4m (€4.4m/$5m) with Dorset-based property finance firm MSP Capital. The deal includes a further allowance for fees and rolled-up interest.

Palmer said the deal will be secured against the new stadium (pictured in May) and guaranteed by AFCW PLC, and confirmed that the club would not have to borrow all of it as the loan is a facility that can be drawn down in stages.

The news comes after local businessman Nick Robertson recently agreed to acquire a 10-per-cent stake in AFC Wimbledon, which is majority-owned by its fans through the Dons Trust (DT). The club hailed the investment as a “historic moment” that allowed it to sign the final construction contract for its new stadium.

In December, fans of the club had expressed their opposition to a private investment approach in the club, as it continued to wrestle with a funding shortfall for the stadium. The club had earlier called for a special meeting after admitting that it may have to shift from its fan-owned structure if it was to fully complete the stadium work.

It has previously been revealed that the club needed a further £11m for the project by January and this week’s announcement completes the financing of the stadium, which will have a capacity of 9,000.

Palmer said: “I must stress the loan is solely for stadium work. Money will only be released against invoices clearly relevant to the construction project. Under no circumstances can any funds be transferred to other areas – like, for example, the playing budget.

“There’s no doubt this has removed a major headache for the club. We can now divert our attentions back to the forthcoming season and preparing for the intensely uncertain, post-COVID world we are all facing. This unquestionably presents a whole new series of challenges but we can take comfort from knowing the stadium project has the funding it needs to reach completion.”

Palmer also confirmed that all resolutions have been passed to approve Robertson’s £2.5m investment in AFCW PLC, and added that fans of the club helped raise over £7.5m through the Plough Lane Bond and crowdfunding campaign.

AFC Wimbledon has played at Cherry Red Records Stadium in Kingston upon Thames since the club was formed by supporters of Wimbledon FC in 2002. The fans acted following Wimbledon FC’s controversial move to Milton Keynes, where it was subsequently renamed MK Dons.

The planned new stadium had been targeted to open ahead of the 2020-21 season. AFC Wimbledon is seeking to return to Plough Lane in south-west London, about 250 yards from where the club’s original incarnation played until 1991.

The new stadium could be expanded to 20,000 by filling in all four corners to create a continuous bowl. The stadium has been designed by KSS Group with Buckingham Group Contracting responsible for the construction.

Image: AFC Wimbledon