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Wimbledon Queens part 2

last updated Friday 04th May 2001, 7:40 AM
Wimbledon Queens

THE Football League have cleared the way for Wimbledon to take over Queens Park Rangers, possibly in time for next season. The League said yesterday they would give "favourable consideration" to a takeover but that the clubs would have to move "quicker than Maurice Greene" to be ready by August.

Talks between the clubs have been going on for weeks and the League were officially informed yesterday. However, the League board said they would look at the implications of any merger, particularly for the League competition and supporters of both clubs. The board are to seek legal advice on the matter.

The proposed take-over would give Wimbledon, who share Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace, a better stadium, at Loftus Road, where they would not be tenants and take them closer to their spiritual home of Merton. For Queens Park Rangers, it would be a way out of their financial crisis, though at the expense of their individual identity.

If the deal goes through it would be the first amalgamation of two League clubs in modern times. Previous takeovers or mergers have broken down because of fan-power and last night supporters of Wimbledon and QPR were united in their opposition to a link-up.

Rangers fans are hoping a buyer can be found for the club just relegated to the Second Division and £9 million in debt. A consortium are scheduled to announce today details of their bid to rescue QPR, who are in administration and whose chairman Chris Wright stepped down this season after abuse from supporters.

Nick Blackburn, Rangers' acting chairman, made a verbal proposal to the League's board yesterday and was told to return with formal written details.

While a takeover could go through in time for next season, a complication is caused by the fact work on the fixtures for 2001/2 begins on May 28. The League's annual general meeting on June 16 would need to ratify the takeover and insiders cannot see how it could be completed in time with the backlash from fans groups evident.

Should an agreement be reached quickly, the losers in the Third Division play-off final could effectively replace QPR in the Second Division. To keep the League up to 72 clubs, the team finishing bottom of Division Three may not be relegated.

Wimbledon and QPR plan to meet fans to gauge their views on Sunday, the final day of the regular season.

Charles Koppel, the Wimbledon chairman, said: "It is an opportunity to do something that would meet both clubs' requirements. We will talk to fans and if it is felt it is not the right thing to do we will take another route."

A statement by the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association said: "We unequivocally oppose the merger of two separate identities, families and histories."

Libby Magrill, of QPR 1st, the supporters trust, said: "Proposed mergers with Brentford in 1967 and Fulham in 1987 were successfully opposed by the fans and any move to merge QPR with Wimbledon will be opposed by every possible means."

No details of the name or colours for the proposed new west London club, who would be the manager or what would happen to the players have been discussed. However, it is understood QPR will release around 20 players in the coming weeks and no one whose contract expires in June will have it renewed.

Ron Noades, the former Crystal Palace chairman, who owns Selhurst Park, said Wimbledon must give 12 months' notice to quit the ground.
Source Daily Telegraph
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