Gateshead to return to home venue for 2013-14 season

Gateshead International Stadium

Chairman Graham Wood has confirmed Gateshead will return to their International Stadium home next season.

They had to play all of their home fixtures since New Year's Day elsewhere because the pitch was unplayable.

"Our pitch next season will be exactly what we expected last season, which is first class," Wood told BBC Newcastle.

"A lot of money was spent on it, a lot of things went wrong, but we've identified and corrected the problem. We expect a perfect playing surface."

Drainage issues at the International Stadium, combined with the severe wintry weather, meant water was retained in the playing surface.

As a result, Gateshead played league matches at Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Carlisle, York, Blyth and Boston in the second half of the season, as well as switching an FA Trophy tie to Barrow.

Meanwhile, the Tynesiders are to continue as a full-time club next term, with Anth Smith remaining as manager after replacing Ian Bogie mid-way through the season.

Smith, 41, has signed a new one-year contract after guiding the club to safety with a final-day 3-0 victory against Ebbsfleet.

"Talk about a baptism of fire, he came in with 24 league games to go and has played one at home," Wood said of Smith's achievement.

"The fact we stayed up in 17th place speaks volumes, I'm pleased for him, he's done a tremendous job."

Smith added: "I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to put this season to bed and be given the chance to take Gateshead forward next season.

"It has been a massive learning curve with everything that has been thrown at us and getting back to playing at the International Stadium again will be key.

"It is our home ground and next season we will have home advantage in half of our games which is something we didn't have this season.

"There are some big clubs in the Blue Square Bet Premier which is a very competitive league, but there is nothing to fear.

"We showed we can compete with the best but need to be more consistent. We have good players at the club and the ground work has started to bring some new faces in."

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