Premiership Rugby club London Irish has contacted AFC Wimbledon about using its Cherry Red Records Stadium, with reports suggesting a groundshare deal could be in the offing.
In a statement, Wimbledon said it had been approached by London Irish about utilising its 9,000-seat stadium – known to fans as Plough Lane – although no detailed discussions have taken place. London Irish has not made a statement following Wimbledon’s claims.
London Irish has played at Brentford FC’s Gtech Community Stadium since it opened in 2020, but it has been suggested this partnership could be severed when it concludes in three years’ time as there are concerns that rugby has had a detrimental impact on the pitch.
London Irish owner Mick Crossan is close to completing a deal with a consortium involving Redstrike, a major American fund whose MD is former Premiership Rugby chief executive Howard Thomas.
The Daily Mail reports that a source suggested the consortium would invest £7m into upgrading Plough Lane to bring it up to Premiership Rugby’s minimum standards, improving the pitch and making at least one temporary stand permanent.
A Wimbledon spokesperson said: “We have built a wonderful facility in a fantastic location and frequently get approached by third parties, including sporting organisations, to use the Cherry Red Records Stadium.”
In the past month, Wimbledon’s stadium has hosted Ukraine versus Brentford B and its first full international between Australia Women and Scotland Women.
AFC Wimbledon returned to Plough Lane in November 2020 almost 30 years after the last game at their spiritual home. The stadium cost £30m, which was partially achieved by a crowd-funding initiative.