South Shields FC rubbish reports they could merge with Gateshead

Geoff Thompson
Geoff Thompson

South Shields FC have moved to distance themselves from reports that they could merge with Gateshead.

The Mariners are looking to get back into the Football League under the ownership of Geoff Thompson.

Reports at the weekend, and online, claimed Shields could merge with National League side Gateshead, who are up for sale after owners Richard and Julie Bennett decided they had taken the club as far as they could.

It could have potentially seen the Mariners take Gateshead's place in the pyramid, jumping the club up a couple of leagues, but Shields have rubbished the talk and are committed to ploughing their own path through the leagues.

A club statement said: "The club wishes to clarify its position following rumours which have accelerated online and in the print media over recent days.

"There is no prospect of the club merging with Gateshead FC this summer, nor has this avenue been suggested or explored.

"Everyone at South Shields FC is looking ahead to another exciting campaign next season in the Evo-Stik Premier Division and thanks all supporters for their continued backing.

"The club wishes to make no further comment on this matter."

Shields, since Thompson took control, have gained three successive promotions, propelling themselves from Northern League Division Two up to the Evo-Stik Premier where they will play next season. More than 2,000 fans packed into Mariners Park on Saturday to celebrate their title triumph.

The Heed, meanwhile, face an uncertain future with talk that they could revert to a part-time model depending on how the ownership situation is resolved.