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FA dismisses Northwich Victoria's appeal against Northern Premier League
NORTHWICH Victoria will host opponents in Stafford next season after the Football Association rejected the club’s request to play home matches elsewhere.
The game’s governing body today dismissed an appeal by owner Jim Rushe to allow the team, allocated a place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s Division One South, to switch to Greater Manchester.
“Vics’ designated home ground for next season remains Stafford Rangers’ Marston Road,” a league source told the Guardian on Thursday afternoon.
An FA spokesman confirmed its panel’s verdict soon afterwards.
Mr Rushe asked the FA to force league bosses to bend their competition’s own rules so that Northwich could play at Flixton’s Valley Road, a pitch more than 50 miles north of Stafford.
He came to an accord with Vics’ former Football Conference foes only hours before a deadline in March.
His original plan had been to share with Skelmersdale United but, then still in with a chance of promotion, had to find an alternative when FA inspectors said the Lancashire club’s ground was not up to scratch for the Northern Premier League’s top tier, and in turn the Conference.
A move to Flixton, where Northwich Villa will call home next term, was mooted late last month.
However, the FA confirmed that Valley Road 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 further for away matches, is the reason behind the league’s refusal to sanction a change to benefit Northwich.
“Logistically it is more convenient for the fans as Flixton ground is just 16 miles away from the Victoria Stadium,” read a Vics statement in May.
“Also it will commercially be better for the football club.”
Mr Rushe has been offered a lease to occupy Valley Road following Flixton’s resignation from the North West Counties League.
He told the Guardian earlier this week that he had overseen work there to improve the facilities on offer to visitors.
“Playing at Flixton would give us access to revenue streams not available at Stafford,” he said.
“The move there was arranged when we thought the team could still go up, but the circumstances are different now.”
The club has not yet given its verdict on today’s appeal outcome.