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Newark FC boss says expectation levels have changed as the club faces season away from Lowfields

Expectation levels for Newark FC for next season have gone from a promotion push to a relegation scrap now the club has been forced from its home ground.

The loss of Lowfields, bought by a developer for £1 at a time when it was felt the club would continue at Balderton alongside a planned housing development, will mean the club relocating for at least next season.

That means huge losses in gate receipts with next season’s groundshare venue, yet to be formally announced understood to be miles from Newark.

CRAIG ROCHE (centre) .
CRAIG ROCHE (centre) .

The impact, says one of the club’s joint managers, Craig Roche, is fewer travelling fans with the reduced money coming into the club dramatically impacting the budgets for playing and backroom staff for the 2021-22 season.

Roche who, with Stephen Kirkham, has guided Newark from step seven to step five of the Non League system, said next season would present his toughest task yet.

“Realistically, there will be no budget and that is mainly due to losing most of our home support,” said Roche.

CRAIG ROCHE (centre) with fellow joint-manager Stephen Kirkham (LEFT) at Lowfields.
CRAIG ROCHE (centre) with fellow joint-manager Stephen Kirkham (LEFT) at Lowfields.

“Most of our playing budget was generated from the supporters, from the crowd through the gate at Lowfields, but we don’t expect everybody to travel to us.

“We are hoping to get around 50 supporters, which could cover the rental of the new ground, match officials and everything we need to play.”

Newark is yet to announce the full terms of a groundshare while the club awaits confirmation from the FA, which is expected to be approved by the weekend.

It made its groundshare announcement after a period of uncertainty that followed the Section 25 notice issued by landowner Charles Collier, who plans to build houses on the site.

“I am disappointed there hasn’t been a resolution for Lowfields,” Roche said.

“That was the scenario we all wanted. Not only for us and what has been done there over the last five years, but for everything that has been done there over the past 120 years.

“It all seems to have been thrown away — we are massively disappointed.

“There seems to be very little chance of anything changing now.

“Mr Collier has arranged to meet with (Newark chairman) Gary Clarke before the end of April to talk things through.

“Whether or not a miracle occurs off the back of that conversation — that is the only glimmer of hope we can cling on to.

“That aside, we had three options; one, fold the club, two, find a groundshare, or three, drop down to step seven.

“We reached out to local clubs to see if anybody could facilitate us for a season, which will buy us time to try and negotiate a move back to Newark, be it Lowfields or a new site.”

The club averaged home support of 300 last season — one of the highest in the country for step five.

Roche said: “Squad-wise, we will take a massive hit and we expect to be scrapping at the bottom.

“We will fight to finish as high as we can but we want to be honest with ourselves and with what we should expect. We are preparing for it mentally because it is going to be a tough season.”

Roche said while the squad is yet to be assembled, fans can expect to see some familiar faces next year.

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