Football: Wimbledon may go back to south-west London

Wimbledon look set for a return to south-west London after a council feasibility study will give the Dons clearance to move into the greyhound stadium near their former Plough Lane ground.

Sam Hammam, one of Wimbledon's owners, had responded to a demonstration by fans opposed to a proposal to move to Dublin by calling on them to lobby Merton council.

He labelled council leaders as "callous and cowardly", saying he was looking into the move to Ireland out of "frustration and hopelessness" at their refusal to help the club find a new ground on their home patch for the past 19 years.

But a council spokesman said yesterday that Wimbledon had never submitted a full planning application for a new ground to them. He said: "We are working with Sam Hammam and we do want a resolution to the situation.

"It is not the council's role or responsibility to build a new stadium for Wimbledon Football Club. We have no money to do that but if they identify a possible site, we will do all we can to see if it is suitable for a stadium."

Council leader Mike Brunt, who only took up his position in May and is a Wimbledon supporter who has watched the club from the terraces for the past 20 years, met Hammam two weeks ago and another meeting is lined up soon. On their agenda will be the results of a study into a redevelopment of the greyhound stadium into an all-purpose ground featuring Premiership football and greyhound racing.

There was more uncertainty for the club yesterday with the news that Peter Reid wants Wimbledon's midfielder Robbie Earle to lead Sunderland's promotion push and is ready to make an offer of over pounds 1m.

Aston Villa have admitted that some of the food they donated to orphans during the recent trip to Romania to play Steaua Bucharest in the Uefa Cup was past its sell-by date - but insist it was still safe to eat.

The Villa chairman, Doug Ellis presented a consignment of tinned food to an orphanage, but a Villa spokesman admitted yesterday: "Some of the cans had gone slightly past their sell-date - but they were still perfectly edible.

"Our suppliers have informed us that it is common practice for companies to donate tinned products to charities and other worthy causes as long as the canned food is still OK."

The club are to hold a collection for the orphans at Villa Park tonight. A collection on Villa's return flight from Romania a fortnight ago raised pounds 1,200.

Terry Venables is expected to hear today whether he has been chosen to coach Nigeria in next year's World Cup finals although he said before departing with Australia for the Confederation Cup in Saudi Arabia that he had had no contact with the Nigerian Football Association.

Keith Branagan, the Bolton goalkeeper, may need a hernia operation after aggravating a long-standing problem in Saturday's defeat at Ewood Park.

Blackburn have turned down a transfer request from midfielder Lars Bohinen, who is concerned that his lack of first-team opportunities at Ewood Park could hamper his chances of playing in the World Cup finals.

Tottenham have moved their FA Cup tie against Fulham to Monday 5 January as north London neighbours Arsenal are also due to play at home on Saturday 3 January against First Division Port Vale.

Sky are today expected to name Chelsea's tie with Manchester United as their Sunday game and that they will screen Tottenham on Monday night. ITV will show Everton and Newcastle as their live game.

The FA has appointed one of the country's most senior police officers to head their security operation in the build up to World Cup finals. Brian Hayes, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, will be seconded to the FA on a part-time basis until 30 April, from when he will work full time.

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