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NORTHWICH Victoria’s place in the North West Counties League’s top-flight was confirmed on Saturday after a group of fans announced they have bought the club.

They had concluded negotiations with an administrator the previous evening.

During their annual meeting in Blackpool, Vics’ opponents on the field next season voted in favour of a resolution to admit them.

As a result, the club will form part of a 23-strong Premier Division following their relegation from the Northern Premier League.

“We were warmly welcomed and look forward to many exciting years ahead,” read a brief statement issued by Northwich afterwards.

Their representatives waited in an adjacent room while a vote took place by show of hands.

There was no recommendation attached, and the proposal needed a simple majority of members to approve it.

Northwich Victoria Supporters’ Association, who began talks before Christmas with an insolvency practitioner appointed by Martin Rushe, says it has completed a takeover.

However it has not yet been made clear in what guise.

The group have though confirmed that the team will play home matches at Barnton following the end of a ground-share arrangement with Witton Albion.

The Guardian understands that the Football Association gave approval for the transfer of ownership from the Rushe family – which has owned the club since 2007 – before Saturday’s meeting.

They did so after money owed to creditors was paid before a deadline imposed by the governing body earlier this week.

Had they not, then the club would have been relegated to the North West Counties League’s second tier.

In that scenario, the supporters’ association has said it would have ended its interest in a takeover.

Instead, it raised a five-figure sum required – made up in part by donations in response to an appeal launched on Monday – to settle all Vics’ outstanding bills.

“We cannot thank everybody enough for their kind support this week,” added the statement.

“We have been truly overwhelmed and humbled.”

Vics entered administration for the third time in little more than a decade in December after Rushe admitted they were insolvent.

A 10-point deduction sent them to the bottom of the table, and they stayed there for the remainder of the season.

They join Burscough in the Premier Division as demoted sides from the level above.

Atherton Collieries have been promoted as champions to the Northern Premier League, while Cammell Laird, Nelson and New Mills drop down to Division One.

They are replaced by Widnes, Charnock Richard and City of Liverpool, who climb from the second tier.

North West Counties League

Premier Division

Constitution for 2017-2018 season

1874 Northwich

AFC Darwen

AFC Liverpool

Abbey Hey

Ashton Athletic

Barnoldswick Town

Barnton

Bootle

Burscough

Charnock Richard

City of Liverpool

Congleton Town

Hanley Town

Irlam

Maine Road

Northwich Victoria

Padiham

Runcorn Linnets

Runcorn Town

Squires Gate

West Didsbury & Chorlton

Widnes

Winsford United

*As ratified by members during the league’s annual meeting on Saturday, June 17