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Southwark Council vote unanimously to purchase Champion Hill and save Dulwich Hamlet

(Image: Duncan Palmer Photography)

Dulwich Hamlet have the full backing of Southwark Council after they voted to purchase Champion Hill from owners Meadow Residential.

Last week, Meadow locked Hamlet out of the ground and were told by the landlords that the club could no longer use their 125-year-old name having been slapped with a £121,000 back rent bill.

The bad blood has stemmed from Southwark Council’s rejection of Meadow’s plans to develop the land into a residential area, coupled with a new ground.

The council turned down the proposal due to part of the land being protected and that the project didn’t include enough affordable housing. Subsequently, Meadow withdrew their funding of the club.

In December, former England defender Rio Ferdinand – a close friend of Dulwich boss Gavin Rose – submitted a £10million bid to Meadow for the site through the affordable housing company, Legacy, he owns with Bobby Zamora and Mark Noble, but it was rejected out of hand.

Southwark council leader Peter John and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan have since written to Meadow Partners LLC in New York urging them to sell to Southwark, who have now voted to release funds to acquire the land for sociable housing and secure the future of Dulwich at Champion Hill.

If a deal cannot be reached with Meadow, a compulsory purchase order would be the next step for the council to take.

Southwark council leader Cllr Peter John said: “This decision is about delivering much-needed housing in Southwark and it is also about securing the future of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club which we all feel passionate about.

“The club is hugely important to the local community, with thousands coming out in support every week, and that is why the council wants to make sure that they can return to their rightful home, where they have played for the last 125 years.

“CPOs can be a long and tortuous process but we will do all we can to reach a negotiated settlement with MR.”

In the meantime, Dulwich will play their home games at Tooting & Mitcham.

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