'Historic' ground share agreement sealed for season

Jamie Humphries Gary Keyzor Gorleston Lowestoft groundshare

Gorleston chairman Jamie Humphries and Lowestoft Town FC chairman Gary Keyzor shake hands on the groundshare agreement at Crown Meadow. - Credit: Lowestoft Town FC

They may be separated by a distance of eight miles and have a friendly rivalry that dates back 135 years, but two east coast football clubs are forging an exciting link up.

An historic ground share agreement has been sealed - with officials at Lowestoft Town FC and Gorleston FC confirming that Crown Meadow in the Suffolk town will be used as the home ground for both teams in the forthcoming 2022/23 season in the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division.

Lowestoft Town FC

Lowestoft Town FC headquarters at Crown Meadow. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

After promotion, Gorleston had hoped to play their home games this season at a new ground at East Norfolk Sixth Form College but there are delays in the process with the college saying it is working with the football club to finish the development.

In February last year, construction of the new football stadium and state-of-the-art 3G pitch was given the go-ahead after a grant of £870,860 from the Premier League, the FA and the government's Football Foundation was rubber stamped.

Now the two clubs will be sharing Lowestoft's Crown Meadow after agreeing a groundshare for the next 12 months, alternate home games will be hosted on Saturdays and in midweek for both teams in the season ahead.

The plans also include a state-of-the-art clubhouse and a 3G artificial pitch Picture: Gorleston FC

Artists impression of the plans, which include a state-of-the-art clubhouse and a 3G artificial pitch at the site of East Norfolk Sixth Form College. - Credit: Gorleston FC

The move has been ratified by the Isthmian League.

 Gorleston chairman Jamie Humphries said: “The deal is for 12 months, and the agreement is now in place.

“I think it benefits both parties and the one-year agreement strengthens our great relationship.”

Gorleston Thurlow Nunn champions

Gorleston FC players celebrate last season's title win - Credit: David Hardy

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Lowestoft Town FC chairman Gary Keyzor said: “It is a no brainer for us, with the clubs being in the same league.

“It is great for football followers who travel to see games elsewhere -- now it is on your doorstep, and you can see football here every Saturday.”

East Norfolk Sixth Form College principal, Dr Catherine Richards, said: “We are currently working with Gorleston Football Club to finish the development and are looking forward to its completion.

Emerald Park

Emerald Park the former home ground of Gorleston Town FC. - Credit: James Bass

"Fixtures are always determined and organised by the Gorleston Football Club themselves and the league and we are in regular communication.”

Action from the Gorleston V Whitton United game

Action from last season's Gorleston V Whitton United game - Credit: David Hardy

In December 2020, Great Yarmouth councillors gave the go-ahead at a development control committee meeting for Pleasure and Leisure Limited, run by landowners the Jones family, to build 97 houses at Emerald Park, the former home of Gorleston FC.

How will it work

With the league fixtures to be released later this month, when Gorleston’s home fixtures are unveiled club volunteers, officials and stewards from The Greens will run the Crown Meadow facility.

Lowestoft volunteers, stewards and officials will continue to oversee their Crown Meadow base when they have home games.

The social club, bar and food and refreshments stalls will continue to be run by Lowestoft at all home games.

Ticket prices to watch matches involving both teams at Crown Meadow in the season ahead will be priced the same, while Gorleston are set to provide a special free travel offer to its fans for each home game at Lowestoft.

Gorleston will play all their pre-season friendly matches away, before the new league season starts with matches to be played at Crown Meadow from August 13.

Mr Humphries added: “I think it’s going to be a great 12 months.

“It is really exciting, and I am really looking forward to it.”

Mr Keyzor added: “It is historic - without doubt.

“A new ground share in a new league for both clubs.”