NORTHWICH Victoria are unlikely be able to pick which pitch they play on if they finish in a play-offs position rewarded with home advantage.
League bosses have told the Guardian that unless guests are hosted at the same ground for the remainder of the campaign, then the homeless club would have to hit the road to earn promotion.
“The rules are clear,” said a spokesman for the Northern Premier League.
“Should a club that has qualified to play at home in the play-offs semi finals, or final, isn’t able to host the game at their normal ground, then the tie will be switched to that their opponents.”
Northwich are placed second in the standings with 10 matches left, a finishing position that would normally make them hosts for a play-offs semi final.
Third spot is rewarded with the same advantage.
“Unless Northwich play at the same venue for the remainder of the season then they could not have a home tie.Northern Premier League
Since eviction from its Victoria Stadium home in January after land on which it is built was bought by a chemicals manufacturer next door, the club has hosted opponents at three different places; Macclesfield, Nantwich and Kidsgrove.
The team’s next scheduled home match against Cheshire neighbours Nantwich Town this weekend will take place at Macclesfield Town’s Moss Rose.
Rock-bottom Burscough will travel to Nantwich to play Vics next Tuesday.
The club’s owner, Jim Rushe, said on Monday that he would continue to make match-by-match arrangements because fixture clashes prevented a longer term deal.
He said: “It’s impossible to stay in one place.”
The league’s management committee will judge whether Vics can act as hosts in the play-offs if they finish second or third, but the chances are slim.
“Unless Northwich play at the same venue for the remainder of the season then they could not have a home tie as their registered ground has been the Victoria Stadium,” added the spokesman.
“But that’s a personal view; the board has the final say.”
It is certain Vics fans will not watch their team again in Northwich this season after the Victoria Stadium’s new owners, Thor Specialities (UK) Ltd, said last month football could not be played there.
Vics’ neighbours Witton have decided against sharing their Help for Heroes Stadium too.
The Guardian invited Albion’s board to explain why, but it preferred not to.
Ironically Rushe did sign papers permitting a temporary move across the canal last year as insurance should he be unable to complete a deal to buy Vics’ now former home ground.
He was later accused by league officials of reneging on that agreement, leading to the club being charged – and fined £1,500 with two thirds of that sum suspended – for failing to fulfil a fixture against Kendal Town in August.
“If a club does not own its ground or have a lease or licence in place, then it must arrange a ground share no later than May 31 prior to the season’s start,” said a league statement in September.
“A deadline was set for Northwich to provide documentary proof that the required security of tenure was in place, but it did not.
“As a result the club was instructed to play its first scheduled home fixture of the season, only to refuse to do so.”