Grounds for optimism as London Broncos look ahead

LONDON Broncos will kick-off the new campaign playing their home matches at Rosslyn Park Rugby Union Club as they look to a long-term future at AFC Wimbledon Football Club’s new Plough Lane stadium.

Rosslyn Park’s The Rock, which has a 4G pitch and is used by the Broncos for training, will host Saturday’s Challenge Cup first-round clash with Keighley and the capital club’s opening home Championship games, which will be behind closed doors.

The Broncos hope to get the green light to groundshare at the 9,300-capacity Plough Lane, which opened in November, when the fan-owned football club put the proposal to Dons Trust members on Wednesday, March 31.

It’s believed there is overall support for a move which would provide AFC Wimbledon with an obvious financial boost, but there are some concerns over the potential impact on the pitch of playing additional matches.

The Broncos have spent the last five seasons at Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Union Club, but that venue wouldn’t meet Super League guidelines should the club manage to regain the top-flight status enjoyed in 2019.

Plough Lane would be the tenth different venue used regularly since the club’s formation as Fulham in 1980, when they were based at Craven Cottage.

The others are Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (two spells), Chiswick Polytechnic Sports Ground, Barnet Copthall Arena, The Stoop (three spells), The Valley (two spells), Griffin Park and The Hive as well as Trailfinders, which is twelve miles from Wimbledon.

The Broncos said in a statement: “Following recent meetings, including a visit to the stadium by our captain Will Lovell to meet Dons Trust co-chairman Xavier Wiggins, the desire to work with AFC Wimbledon, and the Dons Trust, is enormous and we continue to be impressed by what we learn about them as a community sports club.

“We hope, of course, that Dons supporters will embrace our interest to play our home games at Plough Lane but also to form a lasting partnership with a very impressive club.”

Meanwhile, Broncos coach Danny Ward (pictured) is please at the prospect of playing at Rosslyn Park for the time being.

“It can only be a positive for us,” he said. “It is our training pitch and our first-team base, so to be able to play on this surface could be a big advantage for us.”

Victory over Keighley would set up another home game, against Sheffield or York, in the second round on the weekend of March 27/28.

The Broncos’ first home Championship game is against Oldham on Saturday, April 24.

Spectators are due to return to sports grounds in limited numbers from May 17, with the Broncos’ first home game after that against Bradford on Sunday, May 23.

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