MARK Harris believes the decision by a newly-formed football club to play its home games in Winsford, and not in Northwich, represents an opportunity missed.
Witton Albion’s chairman told the Guardian that a deal had been close to share the pitch at Wincham Park with 1874 Northwich, who will host opponents out of town instead.
They will stay initially for two years at Barton Stadium
“I’m disappointed, because to me it makes total sense for the two teams to play out of one stadium if we’re serious about engaging with the community around us,” he said.
“The door is not shut, but we respect the decision that has been made.”
When invited to, 1874 chairman Paul Stockton declined to share – at least for now – the reasons why an agreement could not be reached.
His opposite number was less reticent.
Harris said: “A deal like this one has to meet certain commercial requirements on both sides. In short, it costs more to run a place like Wincham Park than it does a ground with a lower grading.
“We had a bottom line, the question was always going to be whether the new club were prepared to reach that.
“I must stress we have not been in any way greedy in terms of the amount of money we were seeking; in our view, it was a reasonable sum.
“Of course sharing our pitch would have been a bonus in terms of additional income, but I applaud the financial prudence the supporters trust shown.
“They conducted themselves in a professional way from the moment they first made contact.
“In their shoes, I might have reached the same conclusion.”
He said that 1874 Northwich’s choice, confirmed to members at a Special General Meeting last night, Tuesday, does not necessarily give Witton an advantage.
Not in economic terms anyway.
He added: “At the end of the day, the new club will be playing at least three divisions below us so present no immediate threat on the pitch.
“Ever since Northwich Victoria moved away from the town, it’s not suddenly opened more revenue streams for Witton Albion.
“Local companies do not have the same discretionary spend anymore in terms of sponsorship, so our challenge is to be attractive in other ways.
“We’re ambitious, and have plans to improve our facilities to demonstrate our worth to the local community.
“I believe engagement with people around us that is key to our future, and that of non-league football.”