WORCESTER Raiders is close to meeting the Football Association’s (FA) ground grading requirements with two months to go until the deadline.

The Football Association has confirmed the special dispensation to temporarily circumvent regulations during the redevelopment of Claines Lane will not apply beyond March 31, the regular cut-off date of for clubs to get facilities up to scratch.

It means the ground, owned and ran by Worcestershire FA, has to comply with the FA’s G grade to avoid Raiders being at risk of relegation irrespective of their finishing position.

However, work by committee, management and volunteers appears to have most of the boxes ticked.

The county association’s redevelopment of the site, including floodlights, new office and changing facilities and a 3G pitch away from the main playing surface, enabled Raiders to apply for promotion when challenging for the Division One title that they won.

The revamp was supposed to be complete by the end of September 2019 but the project has been the subject of as-yet unexplained delays.

Worcestershire FA recently secured up to £750,000 of loans facilitated by Worcester City Council to get the original work completed, despite football development manager Martin Collier having said finances “are not the issue” behind the delays in July 2019.

READ MORE | A "number of factors" behind Claines Lane delays (from July 2019)

Crucially, the floodlights were up and operational by then in line with FA rules but the lack of facilities on the site meant Raiders had to temporarily relocate to Nunnery Wood Sports Complex.

The club deemed that a more cost-effective solution than installing temporary facilities at Claines Lane but they have since been put in, enabling a return for Saturday’s 5-3 league victory over Cradley Town.

The overall project does not need to be completed provided the temporary accommodation meets the G grade and remains in place while permanent facilities are completed.

An FA spokesperson said: “The FA’s Leagues Committee granted dispensation in 2019 for Worcester Raiders to be promoted on completion of the 2018-19 season.

“This decision was made on the basis that the Claines Lane site was being redeveloped and expected to be completed by the end of September 2019.

“The club has until March 31, 2020 to comply fully with the requirements of The FA’s Grade G.”


Spectators must be able to watch from “the full length of at least two sides of the playing area” and in standing areas that must consist of “tarmac, concrete, concrete paving or other approved materials which create a bound material”.

At least one fully-operational turnstile or pay box is required and “it must be possible to gain access to the spectator viewing areas from the turnstiles via a bound surface” which is a minimum of 90 centimetres wide.

Raiders committee member Stephen Harris said: “That’s in place, we have done (concreted) the one side of the pitch opposite to the stand and behind the goal, then the path carries on the stand.

“We have a pay box at the entrance, spectators then walk around the top end and down the steps to get to pitchside or to the stand via the paved area already behind the goal.

“When the new building and clubhouse go in there will be new walkways but for the moment there is enough in place for March 31.”

A “safe and unimpeded passage for players and match officials between the dressing rooms and the pitch” must be provided but here is nothing in the rules that suggests it must be hardstanding and this is likely to be marshalled by stewards in the first instance.

Regulations state covered accommodation should “preferably” be on two sides of the ground with provision for cover for 100 people, 50 of which must be seated.

Raiders have already installed a stand with more than 100 seats with Harris saying any further provision would only come as a result of anything Worcester City requires to play from the site.

“From what I gather they are happy with one (side) for our grading,” he added.

There must be a clubhouse and “adequate parking facilities” and refreshments available “on or adjacent to the ground”.

“We have a marquee to serve tea, coffee and hot food from,” said Harris, who confirmed that provision would be used while the rest of the facilities are completed by Worcestershire FA.