Shay latest: Fax on course to stay after talks with Council bosses

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Halifax are almost certain to be playing at the Shay in 2017 after apparently constructive talks with Calderdale Council on Wednesday night.

Chairman Michael Steele emerged from a two hour meeting with Council officers in optimistic mood, describing the atmosphere as “positive”.

Earlier, it had emerged that Fax were seriously considering a move out of Calderdale - with at least one unnamed Championship venue offering to host them next season - because of ongoing disagreements over their lease.

Historically, the club’s relationship with Council officials has appeared problematic, although Steele’s tone suggested the two parties were finally heading towards compromise rather than separation.

“This was the most constructive meeting between the Club and Council for a number of years,” said Steele.

“The Council chief executive Merran McCrea was determined to ensure that the relationship between the parties was improved and their approach was constructive.

“I believe there is a clear intent to keep the club in Halifax, and, although the headline User Fee requirement will not change, the Council has a much clearer understanding of the need to provide the club with value for its payments.

“There will be further discussions in the next few days to resolve detail, but I am confident that every opportunity will be taken to reduce matchday costs and to provide the club with opportunity to stage matchday events, such as its ‘Give Us a Try’ Programme, and to use the ground for Reserve Fixtures in 2017. “Hopefully, we have established a basis for constructive discussion on the use of the stadium, which can also include and benefit FC Halifax Town.”

Steele, writing in his programme notes for last weekend’s Championship Shield date with Sheffield, confirmed Calderdale had told the club there would be a price increase in 2017.

With Calderdale also centralising stewarding costs, Fax opted to close the South Stand against the Eagles for the first time in their 18-year tenure as a cost-cutting measure.

“Calderdale Council are seeking to increase our ‘rent’ at The Shay, and the costs of staging a match here has risen substantially because of the Council’s control of the stewarding and related safety costs,” wrote Steele.

“Today’s configuration with the East Stand, only open, gives us the opportunity to verify the minimum cost, if this Stadium, is used for a competitive match under the current safety regime. The result of that exercise will help to determine where the club plays in 2017 and if here, how the ground may be configured.”

It now looks as if the first part of that question is now well on the way to being answered.