The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Sam El­liott

FEARS are grow­ing that AFC Wim­ble­don are about to be used as a po­lit­i­cal football af­ter out-go­ing Lon­don Mayor Boris John­son calledin the club’s ap­pli­ca­tion to re­turn to Plough Lane.

The Dons’ dreams of go­ing back to their spir­i­tual home 24 years af­ter leav­ing looked to be all-but con­firmed back in De­cem­ber with Mer­ton Coun­cil giv­ing their full back­ing to the pro­posal to build on the Grey­hound Sta­dium site.

But the League Two side are yet to get con­fir­ma­tion from City Hall and the Mayor of Lon­don said an­other con­sul­ta­tion must now take place, dam­ag­ing their chances of an emo­tional re­turn to SW19.

Con­cerns have been raised that the club could be at the cen­tre of a po­lit­i­cal fight with the de­ci­sion on whether or not to push through the plans for an ini­tial 11,000seater sta­dium now likely to rest with John­son’s suc­ces­sor.

The fron­trun­ner to re­place the Mayor is cur­rently Labour’s Sadiq Khan, and that could spell trou­ble af­ter he last year wrote to the club sug­gest­ing he would not sup­port the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The Dons says the news came as an un­ex­pected blow to them – es­pe­cially in light of John­son push­ing through Tot­ten­ham and West Ham’s re­cent sta­dium plans.

“Whilst this is a set­back, the story is not over,” said AFC Wim­ble­don chief ex­ec­u­tive Erik Sa­muel­son.

“We have made a very strong case in our ap­pli­ca­tion and we will do again. We re­main con­fi­dent that we will be suc­cess­ful, al­beit af­ter some de­lay to our as­pi­ra­tions.

“It is in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­point­ing that we will have to ap­ply again af­ter two pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions and Mer­ton’s ap­proval.

“But we are happy to do so and con­fi­dent we can suc­ceed this time.

“We have faced much worse ob­sta­cles and we are hope­ful we can ab­sorb this new process into our timetable in time for com­ple­tion in 2018.”

PIC­TURE: Adam Rivers/ Pro Sport

UP­BEAT: Erik Sa­muel­son BAP­TISM OF FIRE: Notts County man­ager Mark Cooper saw his side de­feated 4-0 at Portsmouth on Fri­day

WAIT­ING GAME: Meadow Lane has been starved of suc­cess

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