Worthing are in crisis just days before the start of the Bostik League season after their new 3G pitch failed FIFA tests.
It’s bad news for the club who cannot play on the surface until they repair the uneven areas, which is likely to be a costly exercise.
The Sussex club have been forced to release a statement – and seek arrangements while they try and come up with a solution.
It read: “The club has had issues with the surface ever since it was laid in 2015 culminating in the postponement of January’s first team fixture with Billericay Town due to flooding. The continual flooding has now caused movement in the stone base underneath the surface which has resulted in the pitch becoming uneven.
“FIFA have been monitoring the situation over a few months and have now stepped in to help with the issue currently out of the club’s hands and football’s governing body deeming the pitch must be completely relaid.
“In the immediate future August’s scheduled home matches have both been reversed, starting with next Tuesday’s Bostik League Premier Division match with Leatherhead (to be played Wednesday 16/8), while Saturday 26th August’s planned fixture with Thurrock will now be held on Friday 25th August owing to the Fleet’s ground share arrangement with Romford.
“This would hopefully allow time to find a temporary solution so the pitch could pass it’s FIFA certificate for the upcoming season before being relaid next summer.
“If that is not possible, the club will play its home games at Bognor Regis Town until the surface is ready and has passed the FIFA certification.”
Worthing managing director Calvin Buckland said: “We tried every possible avenue to get this right for the start of the season”.
“After work in June, we still had flooding issues and were without the FIFA test certification. We were advised by The FA and FIFA to make alternative arrangements in case of the worst case scenario, so made contact with Bognor and agreed a groundshare for the immediate future.”
“We’re very grateful to Bognor for offering this. While it’s not best for our fans, supporters and sponsors, at least this is one less thing we have to worry about – we have got somewhere to play our games.”
“We understand from some fans’ point of view it may not be ideal or what they would have hoped for but if it wasn’t for Bognor, we would have had to share in south London or further afield”.
“While we really feel for the fans, players and sponsors, the person I feel for most is George (Dowell; club owner and chairman), who has turned the club around”. “He has put in more than £800,000 in his two years here, firstly paying off the debt, then installing the pitch, continually increasing the playing budget, investing in other facilities and so on.”
PHOTO BY ANDY NUNN