The Fans' Stadium, Kingsmeadow

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The Fans' Stadium, Kingsmeadow

Kingsmeadow (officially The Cherry Red Records Fans' Stadium for sponsorship purposes) is an association football stadium in the Norbiton area of Kingston upon Thames, London, which is used for the home matches of both AFC Wimbledon and Kingstonian.

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 AFC Wimbledon having been purchased from the previous owners in March 2003 a couple of weeks before Kingstonian were to have formed a supporters trust which would have looked to secure it for Kingstonian.

Current stands and capacity

The Kingsmeadow stadium comprises the following stands:

  • The Kingston Road End - partially covered behind-the-goal terrace that was re-profiled in the summer of 2009 to improve views of the pitch. For the start of the 2009-10 season, for AFC Wimbledon home games this will be used to accommodate away supporters. (Crowds at Kingstonian home games are not usually segregated)
  • The Paul Strank Stand - the all-seater main stand with 1,125 seats, which also includes the stadium's three bars and other facilities
  • The John Smiths' Stand - partially covered shallow terrace along the length of the pitch, opposite the main Paul Strank Stand
  • The Tempest End (formerly "The Athletics End") - covered behind-the-goal deep terrace. Its former name came from the Kingston Athletics Centre which sits directly behind the stand; it was renamed in October 2005 for sponsorship purposes

As at April 2009, the stadium had a capacity of 4,720. It originally held 6,299 spectators 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.

As of the 2009-10 season, minor improvement works were being carried out to bring Kingsmeadow up to the standards required for Conference National, the top level of the Football Conference. These minor works have to be completed by April 2010 in order for Kingsmeadow to continue hosting Conference National football. These ongoing works may mean that the ground capacity has to be revisited.

The Athletics End was covered during the 2005-06 season and renamed the "Tempest End" in recognition of the sponsorship from Tempest Sports, Wimbledon's shirt manufacturer, that had partially paid for the development.

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.

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 National, Kingstonian went into financial administration and both club and ground were purchased by Rajesh Khosla and his son Anup. A large part of Kingstonian's support were alienated as they believed the Khoslas were business rather than football oriented.

After one season as tenants of the Khoslas, 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.

Wimbledon kept Kingstonian on as tenants and charged them a lower rent than they themselves had been charged 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 is also intended to defray the cost of the rent.

AFC Wimbledon have played at the stadium since they were founded in 2002, after the original Wimbledon club was given permission to relocate some 56 miles from South London to the town of Milton Keynes. They were in the Combined Counties League at this time, but in 2011 reached Football League Two.