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Worcester City’s very existence is on the line in 2013
AS a new year dawns, so the most important 12 months in Worcester City’s history begins.
For, in 2013, the very existence of one of non-league football’s most famous names will be on the line.
It is not understating the situation to say City will face a fight for survival and the possibility remains of there being no club this time next year.
Within six months they will have said goodbye to St George’s Lane, their home of more than a century, and a potentially crippling six-figure capital gains tax bill looms next December.
They are two major obstacles and both will need to be overcome in 2013.
Let’s deal with the Lane first. When the bulldozers move in on June 13, they will bring the curtain down on 108 years of history.
I am sure no City fan wanted it to end like this. But, through the sale of their prized asset by previous regimes, 2013 will witness the end of semi-professional football in Worcester.
For how long, who knows? Kidderminster Harriers seems set to be their temporary base for next season and, more likely, the one after as well.
Yet all that could be irrelevant if capital gains tax comes into play which City would be liable for on the sale of the Lane if they don’t have a home of their own in the next 12 months.
As things stand, there would be little hope of being able to pay.
That means developers St Modwen need to start building at Nunnery Way.
The company have also had planning permission for almost a year but continue to drag their heels.
Yes, they have until 2017, due to the contract City have been lumbered with, so are in no rush but that doesn’t help the club.
St Modwen don’t need to finish a ground, just be seen to be doing something. That alone could be enough to reduce any tax burden.
Whatever happens, surviving outside of the city will be a tough task but it is one that the club are prepared for.
The news that a large proportion of the support are prepared to buy a season ticket for £100, even if they are not going to attend every game, is welcome.
But if the fans don’t go to Aggborough, it will be harder to sustain a challenge at the business end of Blue Square Bet North or even at that level at all.
Manager Carl Heeley, however, remains confident of keeping City as a force to be reckoned with.
He said: “There’s a lot of emphasis put on the fact we are leaving St George’s Lane at the end of the season and that will be sad.
“Of course it will. Nobody wants to be leaving their own ground but our hand’s been forced.
“We’ve known about it for a number of years now and the next step will be a groundshare, then the major challenge of getting football back into the city and the issue of capital gains tax.”
Heeley added: “All of those things are going to come to a head but mine and Matt Gardiner’s jobs are to try and focus on the football, keep the distractions away and remain competitive which I foresee being tougher and tougher in the next couple of years.
“We’re confident we can remain competitive at this standard of football and that’s what we’ll strive to do.”