York City have won their two-year battle to stay at Bootham Crescent.

After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, jubilant directors revealed the club had struck a deal to call the ground their home "for the foreseeable future".

A statement from the club, ground owners Bootham Crescent Holdings (BCH) and Persimmon Homes Ltd revealed "an agreement has been reached in principle to enable the football club to continue to play professional football at Bootham Crescent".

Full details of the agreement, and the funding behind it, have not been disclosed - but the Evening Press understands Bootham Crescent will be City's home well into the future.

Six months of negotiations on Project Gold, the codename given to the club's plans, brought today's historic announcement, ending more than two years of drama since former chairman Douglas Craig announced in December, 2001, the club was for sale and would quit the Football League unless a buyer was found.

It is the first time in football history that a fledgling board - borne of a supporters' trust - has regained control of its destiny.

It means City will be withdrawing plans to move to Huntington Stadium.

City of York Council leader Steve Galloway said it was the news fans "would have wanted to hear", while Ryedale MP and club president John Greenway said it was "brilliant for the club and for the city of York".

Club director Jason McGill stressed that legal arrangements still needed to be put in place in coming months.

He said: "We are delighted to have reached an agreement regarding the future of Bootham Crescent.

"It has taken much hard work and many sleepless nights, but subject to contract, we have achieved our aim of ensuring York City has a home for next season and for the future."

Staff, players and the supporters' trust were told of the agreement today. The trust unanimously supported club directors.

Trust board member Paul Rawnsley said: "Great credit is due to Jason McGill and those around him who have supported the aim of remaining at Bootham Crescent."

Chris Brass, City manager, said: "This is wonderful news. We all now look forward to a bright future on and off the pitch."

The supporters' pressure group, the Friends of Bootham Crescent, expressed "joy and great relief".

Ian Savage, spokesman, said: "York City has now shown the footballing world what fans can achieve."

York MP Hugh Bayley said fans would be glad the club was staying at Bootham Crescent.

Mr McGill said the board began to pursue staying at Bootham Crescent when it became evident that a move to Huntington Stadium was not suitable.

Eurig Thomas, Huntington parish councillor, said: "It could never have been from the community point of view the ideal answer."

Two weeks ago, former city chairman Douglas Craig told club supporters it would cost £2.6 million for City to assume ownership of Bootham Crescent again.

Darren Edmondson, City captain, said: "This is brilliant. The board has worked so hard to make this happen."

Trust chairman Richard Snowball said: "We're very pleased we can continue to use Bootham Crescent, at the heart of the community. We remain very supportive for all sports in York and wish both the rugby and athletics club good luck as they can now stay in Huntington as it is."

Dinah Smith, who has worked in the club shop for 16 years, broke down in tears at hearing the news. She said: "I just can't believe it. I am delighted."

Updated: 13:52 Wednesday, February 04, 2004