Citizen pain is over for now as Bernard fights for long-term solution
It’s been an torturous few weeks for EBAC Northern League club Durham City, with uncertainty surrounding their future becoming the subject of much speculation.
That speculation began with the news that the club were served with a one-week notice to leave their New Ferens Park home(main image).
What followed was the painstaking process of negotiations involving the club, the landlords, the local council and EBAC Northern League chairman Mike Amos.
Clarity, of sorts, has been forthcoming this week with the news that the Citizens have agreed a ground share with league rivals Consett.
That agreement lasts until the end of the current season and provides a far from perfect solution to a difficult situation.
The move, whilst securing the short-term future of the club, means that Citizens supporters will have to travel around fifteen miles for “home” games.
But chairman Olivier Bernard (pictured left in his time as a Newcastle United player) has spoken of his determination to get the club back to their home city as soon as possible.
“We are happy with the Consett agreement, especially because it is a nice ground to play at. They made us welcome and we can’t thank them enough for that.
However, this is a short-term move. We have had this seven-day notice and we have to move out. We have tried to go back for many weeks, I offered to move away from the club but that wasn’t enough.
We had to leave but what we want is to create a home for Durham City Football Club, we should be in Durham. It is our home and I am very determined to ensure that the club returns there as soon as possible”
Bernard paid tribute to the club’s new landlords but insisted that the Citizens will work hard to find a “long-term solution” during their time playing at Consett’s Belle Vue Stadium(pictured below right).
“Short-term we are at Consett, and we are thankful to Frank (Bell) and the club for that. They have done us a big favour and have given us time to try and find a long-term solution.
Within our time there we will work hard with the council and the City of Durham to find a site and build on it.
The supporters have been great and we want to give them a club to be proud of, one that is based in the city and one that is a big part of the community”
Northern League chairman Mike Amos has provided regular updates via the league’s website, attempting to clear up speculation surrounding the situation.
And Bernard revealed the lengths that Amos and the League had gone to, to ensure that the Citizens could resolve the messy situation.
“The league have been fantastic and they have supported us and been very understanding. They have helped us move games and reverse fixtures during the negotiations. Everyone knows where we stand and we just want to move on now”
Bernard, who also represented Southampton and Rangers during his playing career, has been chairman of the Citizens for almost two years now and is clearly determined to provide something beyond the first team.
In his own words “a community club”, with an eye on producing stars of the future as well as those already playing in the first team.
He said “I want a club but I want Durham City to be a community club, not just one team, not just the first team. I want to produce a really strong club and one that is sustainable to run in the long-term.
We will provide for players of all ages in Durham and we want players to stay with the club from five or six years old, right through to the first team. We want to give footballers in Durham a chance to progress”
Interview: Mark Carruthers