Kingstonian to move in with Leatherhead
Ryman Premier League side Kingstonian are moving to Leatherhead after being booted out by lodgers-turned-landlords AFC Wimbledon.
Leatherhead is 13 miles away from Kingsmeadow, pushing them outside the Kingston borough.
Kingsmeadow, where the Ks have played for over 20 years and which, since 2003, they have shared with AFC Wimbledon, has recently been bought by Premier League giants Chelsea for £2 million.
The Blues want the 4,800 capacity stadium to host all their academy and ladies’ team matches.
This has also helped to fund the Dons' hopes to return to their spiritual home in Merton, where the old Wimbledon side that won the 1988 FA Cup used to play.
They have already lodged planning permission with Merton Council for a 20,000 stadium and are hoping to move in by 2018 - and whilst the Wimbledon fairytale looks set for a happy ending, the Ks have been left homeless.
So, Kingsmeadow is undergoing a lot of change with new Premier League faces entering the club whilst also saying farewell to the Ks fans that have supported the club for many years.
The club, who are currently 14th in the Ryman Premier League reached a “ground share agreement” with Leatherhead to hire their Fetcham Grove ground for all first team fixtures whilst they continue their search for a new permanent home.
Kingstonian will start there in the beginning of the 2017-18 season, including some pre-season friendlies.
The club issued this statement earlier: “The club remains committed to developing their own stadium in the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames but in the short term, an ongoing "ground share agreement" with Leatherhead is an effective short term solution.
“The board at Leatherhead have been exceptionally accommodating and helpful throughout the process and we look forward to working with them throughout our stay at Fetcham Grove.
The "ground share agreement" is for an initial year, but both parties have agreed to a rolling agreement based upon progress with our own plans.
Leatherhead chairman Richard Brady said: “We will continue to play our midweek home games on Wednesday evenings, and Kingstonian will play their midweek home games on Monday evenings, with both clubs playing at Fetcham Grove alternative Saturdays as fixtured by Ryman Isthmian League, who have ratified the Agreement."
But, some fans aren’t happy to hear that the club is moving away from Kingsmeadow where they’ve been since leaving ther previous home at Richmond Road.
Not happy with going to Leatherhead: 10 miles from Kingston. Feels like a deliberate strategy to push the club closer to Chessington.— TheKingstonRoadEnd (@kingstonroadend) February 22, 2017
Kingstonian will leave Kingsmeadow in April and explained why they chose Leatherhead for their new stadium.
“Unlike a number of alternative venues that we looked at, Leatherhead were able to offer that important Saturday afternoon at 3pm slot for home games, and we can also confirm our midweek fixture night will remain, as in previous years, on a Monday.”
“We would like to thank the Supporters Club who sought comments from all who attend Kingstonian matches and as a result provided us with a valuable list of priorities with which to help us when making the decision on the location of the ground to be shared.”
Next match: Kingstonian v Harrow Borough, Saturday 4th March, 3pm, Ryman Premier League.