Winkelman can't guarantee arena!

Pete hits Lions with new arena blow

MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman says he cannot guarantee the completion of arena:mk before Marshall Milton Keynes Lions' current home at the Bletchley Leisure Centre is demolished next year.

The Lions are currently waiting for the arena development next door to the Dons' stadium:mk site to be finished, but face a tight deadline with their current home set to be knocked down next November.

And chief executive Vince Macaulay has already admitted that his club will be forced to leave the city should the new arena not be ready for his side to move into.

But with the demolition of Bletchley Leisure Centre now under a year away, the Dons chairman remains uncertain about his Inter MK development being completed in time.

"We have kept in close contact with Vince and fully understand his concerns regarding the completion of the arena," he said.

"The downturn in the economy and its subsequent impact on capital investment has, in turn, affected our business plan and we have had to prioritise the allocation of our resources.

"Those resources remain fully committed to sustaining the success of the city's football team."

The new 4,500 seater arena was originally proposed in 2002 but continues to be hit with funding issues, particuarly since Marks & Spencer withdrew their investment from the project in the summer.

And Macaulay this week suggested that he will be forced to set a deadline on knowing where the club's future lies as early as April next year.

But with up to six months work still to be completed on the site, the prospect of the Lions remaining in Milton Keynes is now looking doubtful.

"We came to Milton Keynes many years ago because we were promised a home but things aren't quite working out as planned at the moment," said Macaulay.

"We are now currently exploring a number of different options, one of which is moving out of the city".

And the Lions head coach also admitted that he's already received various offers from other cities to take his British Basketball League side elsewhere.

"We've had a number of offers from cities with the facilities already there," he said. "I won't say where yet but they are obviously options we're looking at.

"If you consider how much work is left to carry out on the arena, and with the season starting in October, realistically we need to have something lined up by April time."

Meanwhile Mr Winkelman has insisted that he's working hard to secure the future of the arena.

He said: "Our plan remains to provide an outstanding arena facility, not only for the Lions but countless exciting opportunities that such an asset would unlock for Milton Keynes.

"While no guarantees can be made with regard to the timing of the arena in this current climate, we are doing everything in our power to secure the necessary investment to make this happen as soon as possible."