CHAIRMAN Tony Armstrong believes Harwich & Parkeston’s long-term future hinges on leaving the Royal Oak.

He admits the club’s famous old ground is “falling down” — and says he is exploring the possibility of relocating to a new venue. He has already spoken to a “couple of interested parties” and says any potential move would not happen in time for next season, but possibly the campaign after.

“Our future depends on moving away from the Oak,” said long-serving Armstrong. "The ground is falling down.

“Parts are dilapidated and it needs substantial work, which would represent a million-pound investment.

“If we’re to survive, we need facilities that are in the 21st century. The Oak won’t be in a position to host football in five years’ time and that’s why relocation is the only way forward.

“We’ve already had talks with a couple of interested parties and there might be more news soon.”

Harwich are still hoping to gain promotion to the Thurlow Nunn League this season and they have to submit their application by December 31.

While relocation is an option for further down the line, much will depend on whether their current home meets league requirements.

League chairman Peter Hutchings and secretary Nigel Spurling are visiting the Oak for an inspection next Friday afternoon.

“It’ll be good to see where we stand, to find out what needs doing and the various costs involved,” said Armstrong.

“We’ve still got every intention of being in a position whereby we can make an application to go up.

“But there’s still a lot of work to be done and we have to make sure everything is in place to succeed.

“We can’t go and find ourselves in the same position we were a few years ago.

“If the same thing happens again, and we end up withdrawing from the league, it would be the end of the club as we know it. Finance is the bottom line, along with player and management commitment.

“And I also intend to speak to our supporters, to see what they feel.

“We don’t want to get promoted for the sake of it, just to make the numbers up.”

Harwich are top of the Kent Blaxill Essex and Suffolk Border League premier division but suffered their first defeat last weekend, going down 1-0 at home to Alresford Colne Rangers.

They play host to Tiptree Jobserve today in a 2pm kick-off at the Oak.