SOUTH Shields FC chiefs have just three weeks to save the town’s football club from dying.
The Mariners, who play in the Northern League, are desperately trying to find a new home after their lease at Filtrona Park expired at the end of the season.
The club had hoped to be in a position to buy Filtrona – where they have played for the past 20 years – from owner John Rundle, who has had it up for sale for more than a year.
But a number of setbacks, in the past six months, have meant they aren’t in a position to meet the valuation.
Mr Rundle revealed to the Gazette last month that he wasn’t prepared to give the club another year’s lease, meaning they are now homeless.
The Northern League needs to know by May 31 where the club will be playing next season, and if they don’t have a ground in place, the club will be forced to resign from the league – and possibly go out of existence.
Chairman Gary Crutwell and the rest of the committee are desperately trying to find a solution, and have approached a number of clubs about possibly sharing their facilities, but without any success.
And with time running out, the future of the club is in serious doubt.
“We’re up against the clock, and we’re desperately trying to get something sorted,” Mr Crutwell said. “We’re trying our hardest to get somewhere but time is running out and it’s not looking good.
“We’ve got until the end of May and we will exhaust every avenue. We just need a break, a little bit of luck.
“The club has a meeting with South Tyneside Council leader Coun Iain Malcolm next week so we can bring him up to speed. The council have been good with us, but there’s not many facilities that are up to standard.”
The Gazette understands Shields had hoped to groundshare with Wearside League outfit Boldon CA at the Villa, during which they would maintain and improve the facilities, but that an agreement fell through.
Bids to play at Washington FC’s Albany Park – currently empty – and Harton and Westoe’s Welfare Ground have also been rejected.
Shields ended the season second-bottom of the Northern League’s Division One, meaning they will play in Division Two from August, if they find a home.