Playing fields in sell-off

February 20, 1998

HOMELESS premier league football club Wimbledon is bidding against second division Fulham to secure playing fields owned by the University of London.

But although Wimbledon is thought to have bid between Pounds 2 and Pounds 3 million, far above the estimated market value, it is unlikely that the Motspur Park site would provide a permanent club home.

Instead it is thought the club has earmarked the Surrey playing fields for a youth football academy. Wimbledon will continue to play home matches at Crystal Palace and the team will train at Roehampton.

Fulham is thought to have bid a similar amount for Motspur Park which it would use for training and/or for its junior and youth team games.

The club made the first approach to the university, which responded: "Make us an offer we can't refuse". The clubs have obliged and the university began consultations with students.

University of London Union president Siva Ganeshanandan said that the student sports societies were pleased with the offers although he could not confirm details. The university has guaranteed that profits from any sale will be ploughed into sports facilities. One proposal is for the construction of an international-standard sports centre next door to the union in Malet Street.

Mr Ganeshanandan said: "It costs the union Pounds 97,000 a year to run Motspur Park and we have been stretched to keep it going. Only six university teams play there and the rest of the time it's used by the local community. We are effectively subsidising a community facility."

Wimbledon and Fulham do not deny their interest in Motspur Park but both declined to comment.

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