OFFICIALS at Winchester City Football Club are racing against the clock to complete vital ground improvements they need to make the grade next season.

The team continued their storming run of success at the weekend when they cruised to victory to win the Wessex League.

They now have just three weeks to make £20,000 worth of alterations to reach the standards required by Southern League chiefs.

City will only be allowed to move up to the Dr Marten's League if they build a 1.8m perimeter fence and make other crucial changes to the clubhouse and ground.

Club bosses had believed they would need planning permission to erect the fence but Winchester City Council has now announced that this will not be necessary.

Richard Newsome, club chairman, said: "We will be desperately trying to do as much as we can over the next two to three weeks before the league officials come back in early May with a view to passing the ground. We are on target and I just hope the weather holds. The next couple of weeks are crucial and we need as much help as possible from local busin-esses and people to get the work done."

Mr Newsome met with Winchester MP and City fan, Mark Oaten, yesterday to discuss the team's bright future.

Mr Oaten said: "I am feeling really positive about the club. They have just won promotion and the council is working much better with the club now."

The men agreed to join forces and invite local schools to book coach tickets to watch City play in the FA Vase final on May 16.

The match, being played at the St Andrew's Stadium in Birmingham, will be the bigg-est in the club's 120-year


They also discussed the possibility of extending use of the Abbott's Barton ground out to the wider community.

ARE you going to travel to the Midlands to see Winchester City in the FA Vase Final? Maybe you are planning something special to celebrate the club's success or have an interesting or unusual link to the team. If so, we want to hear about it.

Call Sarah Jones at the Daily Echo's Winchester office on 01962 854 355 or e-mail her using the link above.