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Football club launches bond to get new stadium in the net

League One club AFC Wimbledon has launched a bond to help finance its new 9,000-seat stadium, which when complete will include a 500-capacity conference facility and several smaller event spaces with capacities ranging between 12 and 40.

As with the football club itself, the stadium and conference facility will be owned by its fans rather than an individual or consortium. Funding for the stadium has come from a joint venture with Merton Catalyst, the sale of the club’s current home in neighbouring Kingston-upon-Thames, and a crowdfunding campaign, which in 2019 raised £2.5m.

Through the Plough Lane Bond, the club is targeting £5m in raised funds to help complete the £31m project, alongside additional commercial borrowing.

Investors can elect to lend money over a 5-, 10- or 20-year period with a variable rate of interest ranging between 0% to 4%, paid annually, with a minimum investment of £1,000.

Plans for the stadium’s conference and event facilities can be viewed here and here.

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Sports venues are becoming increasingly popular venues for events organisers, with football clubs now realising the vast revenue potentials their stadiums offer on non-match days. Chelsea recently launched an innovative 90-minute conference package after studies showed that working in bursts of 90-minutes improves productivity. Events at Club Chelsea tailored the conference package to draw on its football ties. Soon after moving into their new stadium, Tottenham Hotspur joined venue consortium Lime Venue Portfolio, which is one the UK's most prominent operators.

The new stadium, which is currently under construction on Plough Lane, Wimbledon, will benefit from excellent public transport connections, with South Western Railway services from Waterloo to nearby Earlsfield taking just 15 minutes. Services to stations on Thameslink, the District Line and the Northern Line are all within a 15 minutes’ walk.

Talking to the club’s official website, AFC Wimbledon CEO Joe Palmer said: “It’s been an incredibly busy period since December and I am delighted the team behind the Plough Lane Bond have managed to turn this idea into reality so quickly.

“Many people from the Dons Trust [the owners of AFC Wimbledon] and our legal advisers have also been involved in getting the bond launched and now it is time for us all to work together to make it a success.

“We are exploring new avenues that have been brought to us for the commercial lending as well, but the more we can raise through this bond, the easier the process of securing the remainder becomes.”

The stadium and conference facilities are planned to open in Autumn 2020. The Plough Lane Bond is open until 14 February 2020. Visit the website to learn more.