AFC Wimbledon Licence Extension Application Approved

Bar at Plough Lane Stadium can stay open until 11pm and serve on Saturdays

Plough Lane Stadium entrance
Plough Lane Stadium entrance

August 15, 2023

AFC Wimbledon’s stadium has been given permission from Merton Council to serve alcohol later, despite residents fearing it will now be “impossible” to get to sleep due to noise from patrons. The borough licensing committee has allowed the opening hours of Plough Lane Stadium to be extended to between 9am and 11pm every day, with the ability to sell alcohol in this time.

The change will now allow the stadium to sell on Saturdays, which was not possible under its previous licence. The stadium will also now stay open two hours later on Sundays. Neighbours of the stadium had raised concerns about the change given disturbances caused by loud music coming from the venue on match days.

One person said they were worried the new opening hours would make it “impossible” to get to sleep. One resident living in the block of flats next to the station said, “We have young kids and cannot open windows on match nights due to loud noise and disruption.

“We are also concerned over lack of security already being an issue with the activity on the grounds as members of the public have frequently accessed the communal areas of our property, acting with drunk and disorderly conduct (p******g up the walls in our communal garden, falling asleep on the sofa in our lounges).”

The topic was discussed at a licensing meeting for Merton Council on 8 August. Bal Srai, revenue and operations manager at AFC Wimbledon, said the stadium didn’t typically receive many complaints for noise or antisocial behaviour outside of match days. He said at the meeting: “There were a couple of events this summer where the windows were left open because it was very hot and the air conditioning isn’t working at optimum in that big silver suite. That’s the most complaints we’ve really had about noise.”

Mr Srai said he intended to install a better air conditioning system in the stadium’s silver suite and keep more doors and windows closed while the venue is open. He also said most events at the stadium limited the car park to 30 cars, and said there should not be much disturbance from car doors slamming shut. He added that the stadium’s security staff were in full dialogue with the police regarding the presence required for certain games with different risk factors.

The application for the amended licence stated, “On football match days at the stadium, the stadium will have adequate stewarding and security supervision collectively as set out pursuant to the AFC Wimbledon Stewarding Plan agreed and approved by the Merton safety advisory group from time to time.”

Lib Dem Councillor Robert Page asked Mr Srai at the meeting what kind of events would require an alcohol licence at 9am. The operations manager said in response that the TV deal for broadcasting sports matches next year had changed, with more events being shown at earlier times such as midday.

Mr Srai said, “We wanted to homogenise the licence over the week because you never know what events you would want to hold on a once off basis, like if there was a World Cup final in Australia or something and we wanted to put it on the pitch.”

The licensing sub-committee granted permission for Plough Lane Stadium to extend its opening hours, according to a decision notice from 11 August . A condition was added to the licence which requires all external windows and doors from the directors’ boxes and corporate suites of the stadium to be closed until 10pm, except for when patrons are entering and exiting.

Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter