SOUTH Shields FC fans will be hitting the road next season – because The Mariners will be playing their “home” games in Peterlee.
The club have finally tied up a groundshare agreement which allows them to stay in the Northern League next season.
While they have been forced to leave the borough to secure their short-term future, the club has stressed that it is only a temporary measure – with plans to return to South Shields next season well advanced.
The football club was left homeless at the end of the last campaign after the lease at Filtrona Park – their home for the last 20 years – expired.
A number of potential groundshares fell through, but a last-minute reprieve came in the form of County Durham side Peterlee’s Eden Lane venue. The local council yesterday agreed to the move to the delight of the South Shields committee – though it still needs to pass an inspection by the Northern League before it is rubber-stamped.
Shields vice-chairman Phil Thornton said: “We are delighted that we have been able to secure the use of Eden Lane in Peterlee for the coming season, and would like to take this opportunity to thank Peterlee Council for its fantastic support throughout this process.
“We would also like to place on record our thanks to South Tyneside Council leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, who was instrumental in working with Peterlee Council to help us secure this short-term move.
“With the groundshare in place and our Northern League status secured, we can now begin to focus fully on our long-term plans regarding a new home for the club, back in South Shields, for the 2014/15 season.
“The Northern League will be making the necessary ground inspections at the end of this month and we will be working with our contractors to ensure all necessary works are completed.”
Shields are believed to be working with Peterlee Council to bring the main stand at Eden Lane up to scratch before the inspection, as well as doing a few odd jobs around the ground.
Eden Lane was formerly the home of Peterlee Town, but the club went out of business at the end of the season.
The Mariners remain in talks with South Tyneside Council over a new purpose-built ground in South Shields, with a site identified and plans being drawn up, with developments expected later this summer.