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Northwich Victoria plan appeal to the FA over ground share for next season
JIM Rushe has not given up hope of Northwich hosting opponents in Manchester next season despite league bosses insisting Stafford will be the club’s base.
Vics owner will ask the Football Association to force the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League to bend its own rules and allow the team – allocated a place in the competition’s southern section – to play home matches at Flixton’s Valley Road ground.
The game’s governing body listens to his case at an appeal hearing later this month.
In the meantime, Vics’ place in Division One South for next season is to be made official at tomorrow’s annual meeting in Blackpool.
“For us, the situation is unchanged,” a league source told the Guardian.
“Stafford Rangers’ Marston Road continues to be the sole designated home ground for all Northwich fixtures during the coming campaign.”
The FA’s leagues committee recommended last month that Northwich play in the NPL’s southern division as a consequence of the club’s agreement with former Conference foes Stafford, a switch sanctioned only hours before a deadline in March.
Vics originally came to an accord with Skelmersdale to play at their West Lancashire College Stadium but, then still in with a chance of promotion, had to find an alternative when inspectors said the ground was not up to scratch for the Northern Premier League’s top tier, and in turn the Conference.
However, last month the FA confirmed that Flixton’s home patch was fit enough only for North West Counties League fixtures.
The Guardian understands that, plus a reluctance to ask the other 21 Division One South clubs to travel more than 50 miles further north for away matches to Greater Manchester, is the reason behind the league’s refusal to approve a change.
Stafford would not complain though.
“As far as we are concerned, Northwich have our blessing to go somewhere else,” said chairman Mike Hughes.
“We have an agreement, but I have told the league that we wouldn’t hold them to it or demand compensation.”
Flixton, despite being invited to, have not commented.
Their resignation from the North West Counties League is set to be accepted at that competition’s annual meeting, also scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday.
One team definitely calling Valley Road home next season is Northwich Villa.
“After much discussion I have managed a share move for us to play there,” said new secretary Ken Stevenson.
The North West Counties League has the same security of tenure regulations as the Northern Premier League, but has decided to make an exception for Villa.
“The intention was for Northwich Villa to continue playing at Winsford but that changed when the latter amended the terms of the original ground share,” said a spokesman.
“Villa therefore looked for a new venue, and the league's emergency committee approved this one.”
Winsford wanted to be paid next season’s rent before a ball is kicked.
But Villa, who switched to Barton Stadium in January after the Victoria Stadium’s new owners Thor Specialities (UK) Ltd said football could no longer be played there, refused.