Stop-start season makes Worcestershire Community Sports Park development all the more pressing - The Worcester Observer

Stop-start season makes Worcestershire Community Sports Park development all the more pressing

Worcester Editorial 26th Mar, 2024 Updated: 26th Mar, 2024   0

The 2023/2024 season has been trying for everyone connected to Worcester City following numerous fixture postponements owing to a waterlogged pitch at Claines Lane.

The latest disappointment came just hours before the local derby against the Worcester Raiders after it was announced that kick-off would not go ahead.

The foundations for success

It was one too many setbacks for City manager Chris Cornes to internalise. For the first time, Cornes publicly expressed his frustration at another postponement while speaking to the Blues’ in-house media.

Cornes’ measured yet forthright views were supported by the club’s fans who agreed that more could be done to avoid the consistent rearranging of fixtures due to an unsafe playing surface.

While these concerns are valid, it is also true that the groundstaff has been at the mercy of the elements with Worcester experiencing heavy rainfall throughout the winter.

The reality is that preparing the pitch for matchdays comes with added difficulties due to the ground not having adequate drainage.

Unlike most modern pitches which automatically drain after significant rainfall, the surface at Claines Lane becomes sodden.

Understandably, the resulting postponements when this happens test everyone’s patience.

Still, there is hope on the horizon in the form of the Worcestershire Community Sports Park development which will serve as the club’s new home.

As things stand, the all-weather stadium is in the planning stage but gathering considerable momentum with fans in broad agreement about moving.

The Blues’ new proposed home will be a 565-seater stadium that will also double up as a cricket ground in the summer.

Additionally, a large terrace running the length of the pitch has been earmarked for community events in a bid to ensure that the club generates revenue year-round.

For owner Simon Lancaster, moving will ensure that the club benefits from a financially sustainable future which will be significantly aided by being able to commit to a full fixture list at home thanks to the new state-of-the-art surface.

Currently, the club pays rent to the Worcestershire FA for the use of Claines Lane but has seen vital ticket sale revenue lost on four occasions this season as they had to play their ‘home’ matches elsewhere.

The incentives for moving into the Worcestershire Community Sports Park are undoubtedly compelling but it isn’t without sacrifice as the new ground is situated in Fernhill Heath – this means that the Blues will have to leave the City of Worcester to take up residence in their new home.

Situations like these often invoke strong emotions in supporters who feel connected to a particular location that has served as the club’s ground since its inception. A change of scene, however, can often lead to success.

Moving on up

You only need to look at how Manchester City’s fortunes changed shortly after leaving Maine Road and moving into the Etihad Stadium in east Manchester in 2003.

With their new world-beating infrastructure, the Citizens became one of the most investable football clubs in the world.

It was a sentiment that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan shared and the rest, as they say, is history.

Indeed, Man City are on the brink of winning their sixth Premier League title in seven years if they go all the way this season.

Fans who feel Pep Guardiola’s men will hold off Liverpool and Arsenal in the run-in can claim any of these free bets with as much as £40 in bonuses on offer.

Paddy Power, BetVictor, and Betfair who all feature on the list of the best online bookmakers price City generously at 10/11 to make history this season.

A new and necessary dawn

Man City’s undeniable stranglehold on the Premier League aside, the wider point is that new stadiums often make a club more attractive to would-be investors which goes a long way in soothing the pain of leaving a sentimental location.

In the case of fans of Worcester, the positives are that there won’t be any feelings of crippling nostalgia as the club left St George’s Lane in 2013 which had been home for 108 years; the time for mourning has come and gone.

Since then, it has been a nomadic existence that has become a costly one in recent times. The need for a permanent home and a chance to build a new future has never been more pressing.

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