One of the most infamous stories in British football is that of the takeover of Wimbledon FC, and owner Pete Winkelman moving the side out of Wimbledon and into Milton Keynes, later changing the identity of the side to MK Dons.
In 2002 a group of Wimbledon fans founded a new phoenix club, AFC Wimbledon. The club were, and still are, fully fan owned. They began to rise rapidly through non-league, and currently reside in League One, the third tier, and the same league as arch rivals MK Dons. They are not alone in combining fan-ownership with success – for example, FC Barcelona is also owned by their fans who democratically elect the president and the board of directors every 4 years.
All of the past ventures of AFC Wimbledon, however, pail in comparison to their newest.
They want to return home.
Since the club was formed in 2002, they have played their football over 5 miles away from their former home of Plough Lane, sharing the ground of Chelsea’s reserve team’s, Kingsmeadow, which is situated in Kingston upon Thames.
Stadiums don’t exactly come cheap, though, but the League one outfit are well on their way. They’ve got the location sorted, having purchased the old Wimbledon Greyhound stadium, some 200 yards from the site of the old
Plough Lane ground. They’ve got unanimous approval from Merton Borough Council, all they need now is the money to make it happen. That’s the bit we’re interested in.
The club are selling bonds to the ground to their supporters. (or anyone remotely interested, for that matter.) Faced with an £11m bill for the final phase of construction of their new home, and wanting to secure the rights to the ground without having to secure sponsorship, the club have started selling bonds to the stadium.
The Plough Lane bonds are available from a minimum investment of £1,000 – money that will be loaned to the club, with opportunities to have your money returned, and then some. not only could your investment put you in pocket in the long term, you’re helping your beloved side in the process, perfect for Dons fans.
A football ground isn’t the only asset being brought about by the scheme, 602 residential units will encircle the ground, of which 200 will be available to buy through shared ownership schemes.
The fan owned nature of AFC Wimbledon has set an example to football clubs around the world that to achieve your club’s goals. Whether that’s a Champions League win or just moving to your dream stadium, you don’t need the backing of one mega rich tycoon, the backing of thousands of fans who will support their side through thick and thin are an equally as good substitute.