CHICHESTER CITY and the district council are finally making progress to give the football club hope they can survive at the top level of the county game.
As reported for the past three weeks, the two parties have been at loggerheads over a lease on the new clubhouse at their Oaklands Park ground.
Despite being finished a year ago, the clubhouse stood largely unused last season because the council would not issue a lease.
The club were unable to run the bar and sub-let other parts of the building to generate revenue.
The lease had not been issued because the council was not completely satisfied with the constitution of the board and that the club were solvent, but the football club bosses – struggling to keep going without any revenue – warned the club would cease to exist if the lease was not issued.
Now, the two parties have finally got around the table and started to thrash out their differences.
A council statement issued yesterday said: “We had a constructive meeting with Chichester City and Portfield United Football Club this week and are trying to assist them to meet the council’s requirements and move things forward.
“It was clear that we are both committed to making sure that the foundations are in place to develop a strong and successful football club. The club also acknowledges that it needs to be properly constituted with the mandate of its shareholders.”
Football club vice-chairman Sean Forry said: “We’re much more positive about the future and happy that the council wants the football club there.”
The council was keen to stress the lease dispute had not meant the club being denied access to the clubhouse, as stated last week.
Their statement continued: “This statement is inaccurate because the football club has always had access to the clubhouse and ground.
“The only thing that they have been unable to do is sublet the space in the building. This cannot happen until the lease is signed.
“Our aim has always been to make sure local people are encouraged to participate in football and that they have the necessary facilities for this to be achieved.
“The club has said that it also shares this aim. We look forward to working with the club to try to resolve this, and to build a strong future for football in Chichester.”