STEVE Claridge is the new boss of Salisbury City Football club after a deal was struck with the administrator.

The troubled club will see the ex-Pompey star team up with a group of avid supporters to build a new future.

A bid launched to the administrator - Portland Business Support and Advice - by ex-professional Claridge, Jeremy Harwood, David Phillips and Graeme Mundy, advised by Ian Ridley, was accepted earlier today.

They fought-off competition for the club’s assets from a rival party for an unknown fee. They say they will now implement their business plan and enter the Whites into a competitive league next season, bringing back football to their suffering supporters.

And TV pundit Claridge, 48, who was set to succeed Mikey Harris in the summer, will now take the management reins from his predecessor as well as being on the board of directors.

“We are delighted that our bid has been accepted," said spokesperson Ridley, who was once chairman of Weymouth.

“We always felt we had made a fair and reasonable offer and were the right people to get a new club going.

“We hope this is a nice Christmas present for football supporters in Salisbury who have had to endure so much over this past year.

“Personally, I am delighted for David, Jeremy and Graeme, who have suffered agonies as the old Salisbury City went under despite all their best efforts. They have been among the good guys through all this. Their persistence and passion for the club has now been rewarded, as has all their financial backing."

The group will now work with the administrator to tie up all the legal arrangements and, assuming there are no last-minute glitches, will look to form a new club and company to get football up-and-running in the city.

They exclusively informed the Journal that they wanted to buy the club a fortnight ago and were hopeful their offer would be granted by Mike Fortune, the director handling Salisbury’s finances.

Fortune said: “I have now completed my review and have today been able to confirm to one party that I have accepted their offer in principle. I am now working with them to prepare the necessary paperwork to complete the sale and hope to be able to formally conclude any sale during the course of next week.”

Once the technicalities have been sorted, the group aim to establish a phoenix club and get a team back out on the field in coming months.

“There is a lot to do,” added Ridley.

“We need to meet with the trustees to get agreement to play again at the Ray Mac, and we really hope they will support us, and also affiliate a new club to the Wiltshire FA.

“After that, we have to talk to the FA about getting into a good standard league for next season.

“We intend to hold a fans' forum at the ground in the very near future if it all comes off and we get the keys. We want to get supporters involved and engaged again to outline our plans and answer their questions.

“In fact, because we cannot be Salisbury City FC again due to FA regulations, we intend to seek supporters' input in a new name for the club and perhaps even have a vote on a shortlist if that is permitted."