A DEAL that keeps Hereford United at Edgar Street forever in a showcase stadium is close.

All sides involved have shaken hands this week on sending the deal into extra time so lawyers can pick over its fine points.

At stake is a single long-term lease that locks the club into its spiritual home for at least the next century and kick-starts the complete re-development of the ground.

Months of behind-the-scenes talks between the club and various interested parties ended in agreement at a meeting in Birmingham last Thursday.

The single lease could last between 100-250 years – a final figure has yet to be confirmed – and replaces the two leases that currently cover the ground and its surrounds until 2057.

A single long-term lease is a big pitch to potential development partners who want to see stability.

United bought back the two original leases from developers in December last year. That deal - worth £452,000 - also settled the club’s long running £1m debt.

United vice-chairman Tim Russon said an agreement on the single lease had been reached in principle and now needed time to be signed off by lawyers. As agreed, the new lease leaves the club to develop the ground as a multi-use venue which would still be owned by Herefordshire Council or any future local authority that might take its place.

Any plans for the ground would explore “areas of mutual interest”

with the on-going Hereford Futures agenda and its retailrecreational development of the Edgar Street Grid around the ground, said Russon.

But once the go-ahead is given, the club’s first priority will be an all-new Blackfriars End that, as envisaged, is a 1,650 capacity stand with a hotel/conference centre attached.

Initial plans for the stand were announced in April last year as the first major development at the ground since the Len Weston stand was built in the 1970s. The present Blackfriars terracing has been shut since failing a safety inspection in the summer of 2009.

* For more on the Edgar Street leases, see Sport 9.

Manset set for Wembley trip MATHIEU Manset, who started the season with an appearance for Hereford United at Ledbury Town’s New Street ground, will end the campaign in much more glamorous surroundings.

The former Bull, who was transferred to Reading in January, is set to be in the Royals squad to take on Swansea City in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Monday, May 30.

Reading beat Cardiff 3-0 in the second leg of the semi-final.