South Shields FC’s return home is official as ground purchase is completed

Geoff Thompson, centre, with club vice-chairman Gary Crutwell, left, and committee member Bob Wray.
Geoff Thompson, centre, with club vice-chairman Gary Crutwell, left, and committee member Bob Wray.

South Shields Football Club’s return to the town is now official after a deal to buy Filtrona Park was completed.

The facility, in Shaftesbury Avenue, has been bought by the club’s new chairman, Geoff Thompson, the chief executive of North Tyneside-based energy consultancy firm Utilitywise.

South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson, right, with vice-chairman Gary Crutwell.

South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson, right, with vice-chairman Gary Crutwell.

The Northern League outfit announced last month a deal had been agreed in principle – subject to final checks – to return it to its former home in time for the 2015-16 season.

Now the Mariners – who spent the last two seasons playing home games in Peterlee – can officially move back into the facility, now renamed Mariners Park, and make the improvements they feel are necessary.

Mr Thompson said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we have completed the deal. It is a relief, because there’s always a risk with any legal process that something unexpected could happen.

“We’re looking at various ground improvements – some of which we’ve already started – as well as improvements to the clubhouse and facilities for supporters.”

I’m absolutely delighted that we have completed the deal.

Geoff Thompson, South Shields FC chairman

Work at Mariners Park is expected to progress quickly ahead of the Mariners’ first game back there – a friendly against Darlington on July 11. New turnstiles will be erected, as will a new fence and dugouts, while the clubhouse will be refurbished.

Improvements will also be made to the hard standing and sheltered areas, while the upstairs function rooms will be refurbished over the coming months.

The facility has been bought from former South Shields chairman John Rundle, and Mr Thompson has revealed just how close the ground came to being placed into different hands.

He added: “When I first approached John Rundle, it looked like the facility had already been sold, before the company that was going to buy it withdrew. It was going to become a container park, as an option was in place with a company, and that would have been a travesty.”

Geoff Thompson, chairman of South Shields FC.

Geoff Thompson, chairman of South Shields FC.

The club is now selling season tickets – priced at £85 for adults and £55 for concessions – for the coming season. To book, call 0191 537 2633.