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Kingsmeadow

Kingsmeadow
Fans' Stadium[1]
AFCWvsRamsgate.jpg
Full name Kingsmeadow
Location Jack Goodchild Way, Kingston upon Thames, England
Public transit National Rail Norbiton
Owner Chelsea FC
Operator AFC Wimbledon
Capacity 4,850 (2,265 seated)
Field size 110 x 75 yards
Surface Grass
Construction
Built 1989
Opened 1989
Tenants
Kingstonian F.C. (1989–2017)
AFC Wimbledon (2002–)
Chelsea Women (2017–)

Kingsmeadow (known as the Cherry Red Records Stadium for sponsorship purposes)[2] is an association football stadium in the area of Norbiton, Kingston upon Thames, London, which is used for the home matches of AFC Wimbledon and Chelsea Women. Until 22 April 2017 it was the home of Kingstonian. It has a capacity of 4,850 with 2,265 seats.[3]

Ownership

The freehold of the site is owned by Kingston Council. The leasehold, which safeguards the site for the borough's football team, was originally held by Kingstonian FC but is currently owned by Chelsea FC, having purchased it from AFC Wimbledon in 2015, in order to use it for their women's and youth teams and to help AFC Wimbledon finance their new stadium. Chelsea Women moved in for the start of the 2017–18 WSL 1 season, and the youth teams will move in in 2019 or 2020, once Wimbledon have left for their new stadium. A condition of the lease between Kingstonian and AFC Wimbledon was purported to have been a renewable 25-year sub-lease to Kingstonian, who were then also guaranteed the first pre-season friendly of AFC Wimbledon's first team squad as a home fixture for Kingstonian. The idea was the takings from that first fixture could cover Kingstonian's rent, which was reportedly fixed for the term of the sub-lease.

Current stands and capacity

Kingsmeadow in 2011

Kingsmeadow comprises the following stands:

  • John Green Stand – (formerly the "Nongshim Stand") a newly built, covered behind-the-goal all-seater stand with 1,000 seats.[3] It was first sponsored by Nong Shim Ltd., South Korea's largest processed food manufacturer, whose UK head office is based locally in New Malden. The rebuilding of the stand increased the stadium capacity to approximately 4,850. It was renamed the "John Green Stand" for the 2015 season after the American bestselling author, whose keen interest in the team has led to a sponsorship agreement.[4] Before the start of the 2015/2016 season the club installed a camera gantry above the stand in order to get different angles for replays to be shown on Dons Player. However, during 2017 the gantry was deemed unsafe, and is therefore not used during matches.
  • Paul Strank Stand – the all-seater main stand with 1,265 seats,[3] which also includes the stadium's changing rooms, offices, three bars and other facilities. The main stand was extended during the 2008–09 season, adding additional seats and also extending the roof to provide better protection from rain. It was also renamed the Paul Strank Stand at this time. Paul Strank is a supporter and major benefactor of AFC Wimbledon, hence it was named in his honour.
  • RyGas Stand[5] – (formerly the "East Stand" and "Your Golf Travel Stand") is a partially covered shallow terrace along the length of the pitch, opposite the main Paul Strank Stand. AFC Wimbledon are about to commence a feasibility study regarding the best way to upgrade this area of the ground, which must meet football league standards by May 2014. Due to AFC Wimbledon's desire to move to a stadium in Wimbledon in the medium to long term, the solution is most likely to be whatever is most cost effective. This stand also holds the camera gantry at the stadium as well as the scoreboard.
  • Chemflow End – (formerly the "Athletics End" & the "Tempest End") a covered behind-the-goal deep terrace. Its original name came from the Kingston Athletics Centre which sits directly behind the stand. The terrace was covered during the 2005–06 season and renamed the "Tempest End" in recognition of the sponsorship of Tempest Sports, Wimbledon's exclusive kit manufacturer since the club's inception, who had partially paid for the development. For the 2013–14 season the stand was renamed the "EcoHouse End" in a new sponsorship deal with EcoHouse Group, which has its main European office in nearby Richmond. During 2016 the stand was renamed the Chemflow end in another sponsership deal.

As of October 2012, the stadium has a capacity of 4,850. It originally was designated to have a 6,299 capacity before modern safety requirements and ground improvements (such as re-profiling the Athletics End terrace and replacing the original terraced paddock in front of the main stand with seats) required the capacity to be reduced. Kingstonian's highest attendance at Kingsmeadow was 4,582 v Chelsea (friendly) on 22 July 1995. AFC Wimbledon's highest attendance at Kingsmeadow was 4,870 against Accrington Stanley on 14 May 2016 which set the record attendance at Kingsmeadow.[6]

History

The stadium has been the home of Kingstonian since 1989, when they built the entire complex on the site following the sale of their traditional Richmond Road ground. Kingstonian opened the ground with a friendly against Queens Park Rangers. Following relegation from the Conference, Kingstonian went into financial administration and both the club and ground were purchased by Rajesh Khosla and his son Anup. Much of Kingstonian's support were alienated as there was a perception that the Khoslas were business men first rather than football oriented.

AFC Wimbledon have played at the stadium since they were founded in protest in 2002, after Wimbledon F.C. were given permission to move 56 miles north-west to the town of Milton Keynes.[7] They were in the Combined Counties League at this time, but in 2016 reached Football League One.

Kingsmeadow in 2003

After one season as tenants of the Khoslas, AFC Wimbledon undertook to buy the leasehold to the ground. The club's owners, the Dons Trust, launched a share issue to finance the purchase, which was closed the following summer. The club subsequently arranged for a commercial loan to clear the remaining debt to the Khoslas. Upon taking over the ground, its name was changed to the Fans' Stadium which remains the nickname of the ground today.

AFC Wimbledon kept Kingstonian on as tenants and charged them a peppercorn rent, lower than that which had been charged to themselves by the Khoslas, with both gate receipts and bar takings at Kingstonian games being retained solely by Kingstonian (which continued to be Khosla-owned until 2005). An annual friendly between the two clubs was also intended to defray the cost of the rent.

In November 2015 AFC Wimbledon supporters backed a proposal to sell the ground to Chelsea F.C., who were interested to use the ground for its youth teams and women's team.[8][9][10]

In January 2017 it was announced that Kingstonian would move to Leatherhead F.C.'s ground for the following season.[11] On 22 February 2017, Kingstonian officially announced that they will be sharing Leatherhead F.C.'s ground at Fetcham Grove for the 2017–18 season.[12] On 16 January 2018, Kingstonian announced they would be on the move once more this time to King George's Field in Tolworth to share with Corinthian-Casuals F.C. starting in the 2018-19 season.[13] The sale was hugely detrimental to Kingstonian, it has made the local club's future very uncertain, with them unable to play in a ground that is now too big and expensive for a non-league side and one which they no longer have any decision over, having now to relocate.[14][15][16][17]

In May 2017 it was confirmed that the ground would become the new home of Chelsea Women, beginning with the 2017-18 FA WSL season.[18]

References

  1. ^ Thomas, Aled. "AFC Wimbledon cannot face MK Dons". When Saturday Comes. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Stadium Kingsmeadow name changes". AFC Wimbledon. Archived from the original on 25 June 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Football Ground Guide: AFC Wimbledon". FootballGroundGuide.com. Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "An awesome stand for John". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  5. ^ "New stand sponsors for 2016/17". AFC Wimbledon. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  6. ^ "AFC Wimbledon 1–0 Accrington Stanley". BBC Football. Retrieved 20 May 2016. 
  7. ^ Wimbledon F.C. moved in September 2003 and became Milton Keynes Dons in June 2004.
  8. ^ Lewis, Matt (17 November 2015). "AFC Wimbledon fans approve sale of Kingsmeadow to Chelsea". 
  9. ^ "Chelsea close in on deal to buy AFC Wimbledon's Kingsmeadow ground". 
  10. ^ "Chelsea's £2m Kingsmeadow deal moves Wimbledon closer to home". 17 November 2015. 
  11. ^ [www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk]
  12. ^ "K's To Share With Leatherhead in 2017–18". www.kingstonian.com. 
  13. ^ www.kingstonian.com [www.kingstonian.com].  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ [www.theguardian.com]
  15. ^ [www.newsshopper.co.uk]
  16. ^ [www.surreycomet.co.uk]
  17. ^ [www.surreycomet.co.uk]
  18. ^ [www.afcwimbledon.co.uk]

External links