CHAIRMAN Steve Goode hailed “the rebirth of Worcester City” after announcing the club would return home at Claines Lane next season.

City, exiled since 2013 following the sale of St George’s Lane, have agreed to rent from landowners Worcestershire FA and anticipate being in situ for the start of 2020-21.

READ MORE | Q&A - What shareholders asked after Claines Lane deal was announced

READ MORE | Claines Lane deal as it was announced

But Goode told shareholders at a general meeting that City’s desire to own a ground in the future remained undiminished and that the search would begin “as soon as we sign the lease”.

In the meantime, the club will profit from bar and catering facilities and have the chance to create and retain all sponsorship revenue.

City will also have an office to run its Gold Bond from, an essential chunk of its income while groundsharing at Kidderminster and Bromsgrove for seven seasons.

He revealed talks were ongoing over the length of the stay but that City “have an option for up to 25 years”.

“We haven’t decided on what we will go for yet but I think we will look at 10-year lease with a five-year break clause,” said Goode.

“Ten years would get us back on our feet but as soon as we sign the lease we will be looking (at alternatives) and if something comes along we will have time to get it right.

“There are no options at the moment but it is to let people know this is a stepping stone to hopefully owning our own ground.”

City will have to fund ground improvements with Worcestershire FA’s original plans only catering for the level below, meaning access to grants could be used up on Claines Lane while searching for a permanent stadium.

“We understand those clauses and it is something we are looking at. If we do move on we hope to be in a better financial position to do so,” said Goode.

“This is the best thing that could happen for the club at the moment. We know we will have financial sustainability.

“It is about making sure we still have a club, we stated before how we would have struggled in two years so it is just trying to rebuild the club."

Addressing ground grading, Goode continued: “The plan is the ground will be up to step three level (two above City’s current status) from the start of next season, it should be done.

“It will definitely be up to step five for next season but we are hopeful of getting everything in place for step three.

“People think we don’t have any ambition but the ground will be able to take us up two levels. We haven’t had a promotion for 40 years and it would be great to go up. The facilities will be in place to do that.”

Another concern is the maintenance of the pitch with City, Raiders and an existing tenant that fields a women’s team on Sundays set to play on one surface.

“The Worcestershire FA will have full-time staff looking after the pitch, something they haven’t had before,” said Goode.

“There is a plan to turn the area that floods into parking facilities and to drop water tanks into the ground to deal with the drainage with cars able to park above.

“That is something being looked at now and as far as we are concerned the pitch will be in top condition.

“I understand people will be concerned by the number of games but I don’t think it is any worse than any other team playing at this standard of football.

“There are other options in the pipeline with regard to the pitch, we met with the Minister for Sport (Nigel Adams) and he promised a couple of things.

“It should be fine but there are also options to help improve the playing surface.”

Asked whether City had consulted Worcester Raiders – the highest-ranked current tenants at Claines Lane and the club that secured funding for some of the original developments – Goode said: “Not yet. All we are doing is leasing the ground, it is Worcestershire FA we have been talking to.

“We will talk to Raiders and have stated what an unbelievable job they have done to get to where they are, hats off to them.

“I am sure we can work together and I think this will benefit them because the work that will be done to the ground allows them to go up the leagues as well.

“I know most of the people there, I have done for years and they are a decent bunch of lads.”

On delivering a return to Worcester, Goode said: “I became chairman 16 months ago and there were things we set out to do.

“The first was to look at the finances. Unfortunately we haven’t broken even but we have reduced the losses by a big amount.

“Being outside of Worcester hasn’t helped with sponsorship and again, being back will help with that and all of that will go to the club.

“Fan ownership was the next step, I wish it had happened years ago but it didn’t. It has now.

“Now this is the icing on the cake. I was disappointed Perdiswell didn’t happen but the council has been very helpful and accommodating. The (county) FA has helped and they all want the same thing, to bring the club back to Worcester.

“I am one proud chairman and I just hope the fans appreciate the work we have done to get to this stage.

“I would like to thank Bromsgrove as well, I am sure they will be upset to have lost us but they have a great team there, a great board that help us on matchdays.

“It is a shame we’re leaving in one way but it is time, December 12 is going to be remembered as the rebirth of Worcester City Football Club.”

City shareholders also voted through a proposal that would enable a takeover of the club should any proposal to do so gain backing from 60 per cent or more of the shareholding. 

No such decision could be taken without Worcester City Supporters' Trust being on board due to it holding approximately 46 per cent of the shares in the club. 

On the Claines Lane deal, trust chair and club director Dave Wood said: "The most important thing we looked at was the viability of the club moving forward. That's all that matters to me. 

"Let's have sustainability and start making the numbers work. All of you trust members, shareholders and fans, get involved and make it work. 

"I really do believe we can make it happen."