WITTON Albion, who ended a previous ground-share with Northwich Victoria after claiming Vics could not afford it, have announced a new arrangement between the clubs.

It will last for two years initially, and starts from next season.

Meanwhile Vics’ remaining home games during the current campaign are to take place at Barnton’s Townfield as scheduled.

“It isn’t a secret that we’ve been exploring options with prospective partners,” said Mark Harris, Witton’s chairman.

“A ground-share makes sound business sense; they are a source of total revenue, not only in match-fees but in terms of money over the bar too.”

The rivals had intended to make public the agreement later this week.

However a statement issued by Barnton on Saturday night broke the news instead.

The Villagers say members of Vics’ committee told them the previous evening that they would be returning to Wincham Park, where they played for two seasons until April 2017.

“As a result, protracted negotiations followed until an agreement was reached to allow Vics to carry on playing at Townfield Lane for the remainder of this season,” read the statement.

Witton have insisted on clauses in the deal, including a commitment by their tenants to host fundraising events in the social club and volunteers to assist with preparing the pitch.

Barnton confirmed last June that they would become landlords to Vics shortly after the latter's place in the North West Counties League’s Premier Division was secured.

They had been relegated from the Northern Premier League after finishing bottom of Division One South.

“We’d like to offer sincere thanks to Barnton for allowing us to play there,” said chairman Brian Turner.

He added there is an option to extend Vics’ stay at Witton.

On Saturday, 1874 Northwich hired the facility to host an FA Vase semi-final second leg against Thatcham.

A crowd of close to 1,700 spectators watched them exit the competition on aggregate following a 3-2 defeat – the third tie in this season’s edition that they have played there.

And Harris said he did not rule out a repeat.

“We’ve developed an excellent working relationship with 1874 and hosting their games has helped both parties,” he said.

“And we’d do the same again subject to wear and tear on the pitch.”

In an interview with the Guardian earlier this month, he described as a ‘godsend’ the money raised by Witton from renting the ground to 1874.

At a forum before Christmas, Harris told Albion supporters the club needed to bring in cash quickly after raiding its reserves to help meet day-to-day costs.

“Commercial realities dictate that our greatest asset – the stadium – is used to increase income,” he said on Sunday.

“Each team that plays here does that at a time when attendances are falling across non-league football.

“Clubs have to look at every possibility to make ends meet, and Witton Albion is no different.”

Harris is due to stand down as chairman next month, when John Salmon will replace him.

However he will continue as a director in the short-term while his successor settles in.