The Faithful have been without a home of their own for five years, here Luke Cox from Worcester City Supporters' Trust tells us more about their fight for a new ground...
Worcester City FC, once of the National League North, have not played a competitive game in the city it carries the name of since 2013.
Due to piling financial pressures at the time, the club agreed to sell its ground familiar to many a groundhopper, St. George’s Lane. City have since played at Kidderminster Harriers and now Bromsgrove Sporting.
The club and Supporters’ Trust jointly submitted a planning application back in April 2014 for a community football stadium in the city of Worcester at a site known as Perdiswell.
Sadly, despite the robust plan put together and the planning officers recommending approval, local politics seemed to have obstructed the application as it was rejected in July 2017.
Upon this decision, the club removed its association with the Perdiswell planning application to pursue its own planning application leaving the Supporters’ Trust as the sole applicants. This being at a time when there was heightened tension between the club board and many fans over several decisions.
Nonetheless, a Supporters’ Trust meeting was held shortly after in which the fans unanimously agreed to appeal the decision of the rejection of the planning application. This process involved the planning application being looked over by the Government’s independent Planning Inspectorate who would then decide to approve or reject it.
On 28th September 2018, the Supporters’ Trust received word that their appeal had been successful and finally had a route to bring Worcester City home.
Winning the planning permission appeal coincided with a number of club directors and the chairman who had been considered contentious at times leaving and being replaced by life-long fans with the experience to guide the club forwards.
The club is now moving towards supporter ownership and working with the Supporters’ Trust in harmony.
There have been occasions in recent years when all hope seemed to be lost. It was not too long ago that the club went through triple relegation after applying to drop two leagues and finishing in the bottom three of the National League North. There were even talks of the Worcester having to go fully amateur to survive.
The culmination of winning the planning permission, the changes at club board level and the progression towards supporter ownership has brought about a feeling of positivity and unity to Worcester City.
By all means the club still have considerable hurdles to overcome, winning the planning application appeal was only step one of many. Converting the club to supporter ownership involves changing the club’s constitution whilst the next step to secure the land which the Supporters’ Trust has planning permission for involves gaining a Community Asset Transfer which presents a whole host of new challenges to overcome.
However, it must be recognised that it was the fans who brought about this change. It was the fans through the Supporters’ Trust seeing through to the end their planning application at great expense that has forged a potential path for Worcester City to finally get home. The determination of the supporters through the Supporters’ Trust brings optimism that Worcester City will come home soon enough.
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