WOKINGHAM AND EMMBROOK have completed a groundsharing agreement with Bracknell Town for the 2018/19 season.
The Sumas had been provisionally granted a spot in next season’s Hellenic Division One East, but a stricter stance on laws from the FA means they have to play at a different ground until Lowther Road is deemed suitable.
It had initially been feared that Dan Bateman’s men may have to take voluntary relegation into step seven, similar to Finchampstead last year.
But they have now managed to negotiate to make Bracknell their temporary home ahead of a planned return to Lowther Road in 2019.
It is not the first time Wokingham have played home matches at Bracknell, having played there back in 2010 to allow them to play in the Hellenic Premier Division.
While being handed a spot to remain at the same level will be seen as a relief to the Sumas, the news certainly comes as a blow, having worked so hard to bring football back to the borough and they hoped the FA would give them an extra year to bring the ground up to the required standard.
Following groundshares at places such as Egham and Henley as well as Bracknell, Wokingham finally got the green light from the council to begin building work at Lowther Road in July 2016 after negotiations that went on for over a decade.
Those plans included installing a 100-seater stand and floodlights, which would put them in line to compete at step five, should they achieve promotion back to the Hellenic Premier.
Despite that permission, the floodlights have still not been installed, meaning Wokingham had to find a compliant G Grade ground in the interim, otherwise take voluntary relegation into the Thames Valley League.
And following an internal meeting last week led by chairman Steve Williams, plans were finalised with Bracknell chairman Kayne Steinborn-Busse following discussions on Friday evening and into Saturday.
“Wokingham and Emmbrook are committed to playing at step six next season and we will groundshare,” said club secretary Bob Good.
“We will develop Lowther Road to stay at step six in the following season and we are aiming to be where we should be at step five.”
Another change comes off the pitch with Mark Ashwell reappointed as president, heading up the application process ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
Bateman will remain in charge of the first team under the same management structure as the season just gone with possible additions to come.
Sumas Reserves will remain in the Thames Valley Premier League and will continue to play matches at Lowther Road.