Wimbledon’s hopes of finding a temporary new home in Milton Keynes have received a welcome boost after it was revealed that a deal to lease the National Hockey Stadium ‘‘is a real possibility’’.
Last month a Football Association-appointed independent commission gave the Division One club permission to controversially relocate 60 miles north from their current south London base.
However, they need a temporary venue for the next two years while a new ground is built and the 4,000-capacity hockey stadium is an obvious option as much of the infrastructure is already in place.
‘‘Discussions are taking place with Wimbledon FC with a view to them considering the possibility of short-term occupation of the stadium while their new stadium at Milton Keynes is constructed,’’ said Tony Bilson, chairman of Hockey Centre Limited, the company which runs the stadium on behalf of the National Hockey Foundation - a charitable trust.
‘‘Whether those discussions will come to anything remains to be seen. There are many hurdles still to be overcome, including whether the stadium is viable for their use and whether it will get the necessary approval from the Football League and whether there is a deal which is sufficiently attractive to make the Hockey Federation want to proceed.
‘‘At the end of the day the financial benefit has got to be a considerably weighty one because of the inconvenience that is going to be caused to hockey in that interim period.
‘‘Nothing happens quickly because there are so many things that have to be resolved. We are some way off a concluding a deal but a deal is a real possibility,’’ he told PA Sport.
Alterations required to be made to the hockey stadium should both parties agree on a deal, and
approval is forthcoming from the Football League, include ripping up the artificial pitch, installing additional seating and the addition of a number of measures designed for crowd safety.
In the two-year period that Wimbledon would play at the stadium all international hockey matches and cup finals would be staged at club grounds around the country.