0 AFC Wimbledon chief executive Erik Samuelson 'excited' about stadium bid

The supremo at AFC Wimbledon is confident the multi-million pound stadium plan for Plough Lane will be approved, realising a dream the club has had for 11 years of returning to the borough.

Eric SamuelsonAFC Wimbledon chief executive Erik Samuelson said it is a very exciting time for the club as Merton Council verified its application for a 20,000 seater stadium, 602 flats, shops, parking and a squash and fitness club.

He said the clock was ticking as the consultation period began yesterday and will run until January. The council's planning committee will discuss the plans in the New Year and decide whether to approve them.

The spotlight will be on the club's third round FA Cup draw against Liverpool in January.

Mr Samuelson said this will show why they need a new stadium.

He said: "I think everyone will see very shortly when we play in the third round of the FA Cup why we need a bigger and more modern stadium.

"We are on the BBC on January 5. It will be a fantastic atmosphere."

He said the current capacity, both in seating and terraces at the club's Kingsmeadow stadium in Kingston, was about 5,000.

"We could sell it out several times over," he added.

Addressing concerns that the development could cause flooding problems because it is on a flood plain, Mr Samuelson said they have consulted widely with experts and fully complied with all relevant policies in the plan.

"As long as we comply with them it won't be an issue," he said.

"It is the same for traffic management.

"We have had regular consultations with the relevant bodies about what they are looking for.

"We believe our submission will meet the requirements.

"We are hoping the support we have had will continue.

"The job isn't done."

AFC Wimbledon wants to demolish the existing greyhound stadium in Plough Lane, Wimbledon, and build a 20,000 seat stadium.

The first phase would be creating a stadium with 11,000 seats to be expanded over time to the 20,000 maximum capacity, plus hospitality and 297 car parking spaces.

Paschal Taggart, the businessman behind rival plans for a new greyhound stadium on the site, said in October AFC Wimbledon "would need a genie in a bottle" to succeed.

Mr Samuelson did not want to comment on Mr Taggart's proposal, which the Irish businessman has said he does not intend to submit to the council.

He said: "This is an extraordinarily significant step in the evolution of AFC Wimbledon.

"We will thrive at the new stadium.

"We have put a lot into it and we are very keen to see it through."

He said the club first started thinking about a move back to Merton 11 years ago but plans 'got serious' about 18 months ago.

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