The Dons Trust Board unanimously recommended that a ground share take place with the Broncos and a 91% majority among more than 500 votes at the March 31 meeting backed the move, meaning the Broncos will play their home games at Plough Lane, likely later in their current Championship season.
The ground share will net the Dons around 200K pounds a season in stadium rental along with a share of drinks and food sold at the games.
Planning permission has been submitted to stage rugby league games at Plough Lane but that will only take place after Dons fans can attend test events inside the ground – the first one on May 18 for up to 2,000 fans.
There will be other test events involving Wimbledon fans before the London Broncos will be able to stage their home games at the stadium. In the meantime, the Broncos will play their games out of Ealing.
Following the Dons Trust Vote this week we would like to thank all of those who voted in favour of the Broncos playing at Plough Lane.
— London Broncos (@LondonBroncosRL) April 4, 2021
The tier two league, which began in April, runs until the final home game on September 12 so there is minimal overlapping of seasons with Wimbledon, while the Plough Lane groundsman has confirmed there will be little damaging impact on the immaculate playing surface with rugby league as opposed to the scrum-churning rugby union.
The reason for the club’s appetite to host the London Broncos is financial. The Dons Trust have considerable debts to repay for the completion of Plough Lane along with debentures and short-term loans to repay and a steady stream of income from the groundshare will help ameliorate the financial burden.
If the London Broncos do get promoted to the tier one Super League then the ground rental will rise with expected larger gates from the bigger and well-supported rugby league clubs.
London Broncos fan Jake Rainbow wrote recently in the Wombles Downunder fanzine: “I can entirely understand and support the desire of AFC Wimbledon fans to be the first fans to turn out in the new home you have been hoping for so such a long time.
“I know this view is shared by every London Broncos fan I have spoken to or seen discussing it online, and we would not want to be the ones to stand in the way of that.
“I hope, and truly believe, that the Broncos and the Dons can have a solid partnership going forward, beneficial for both sides.”
This continues a number of ground shares the London Broncos have had with other football clubs in London.
The Broncos ground-shared at Craven Cottage (Fulham) until 1991, then The Valley (Charlton) for the 1996, 2000 and 2001 seasons, Griffin Park (Brentford) between 2002 and 2006 and The Hive (Barnet) for 2014 and 2015.