TAREE City Bulls Rugby League Club expect to officially take over the Jack Neal Oval from Taree Leagues and Sports Club on Sunday, April 23.
This will be the club’s first home game of the season when the Bulls will host Macleay Valley.
Taree will play Old Bar at Old Bar in the opening round on Saturday April 8 before the competition breaks for Easter.
Bulls’ president Mal Dixon confirmed a lease has been signed by the his club and Taree Leagues and Sports Club, owners of the Neal Oval.
“Now we’re being held up by the Land Title Office,’’ he said.
“They’ve had the lease since December.
"But we expect it to be registered by April 23 in time for our first home game.’’
This will bring to an end a long running saga that started when Mr Dixon began negotiations with the leagues club board over leasing the ground four years ago.
Mr Dixon admits the process has at times been frustrating with delays caused by bureaucracy .
“But it looks like we’ve finally got there,’’ he said.
Mr Dixon said the Bulls will now work with the leagues club to repair the playing surface at the ground.
“Apparently it got a bug in it during all that hot weather we had in summer,’’ he said.
“We had a working bee there a couple of weeks ago to spread fertiliser over the ground. It doesn’t look too good there at the moment, but it should be right for our first home game.’’
Plans to switch the Country Championship under 16 and 18 matches to the ground last weekend were scuttled due to the state of the playing surface, which previously had been rated as the best in Group Three. The games were transferred to Wingham.
Mr Dixon said once the lease is registered the Bulls will look to apply for further grants to improve facilities at the ground.
“We’ve already achieved a fair bit already, with new fencing and lighting along with the electronic scoreboard,’’ he said.
Mr Dixon has said previously he is confident a new stand will be built at the ground within five years.