BREAKING: Haverhill Borough reveal £30,000 bill to ground share with Rovers
Haverhill Borough has claimed it was handed a 'potential bill of £30,000' by The New Croft landlords last week as they met to discuss a solution to their ground grading issues.
The Haverhill Community Sports Association (HCSA) announced on Thursday (click here for article) that Haverhill Borough would be forcibly relegated from the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division at the end of the season following the meeting between Borough representatives and the HCSA board, owners of The New Croft - home to both Rovers and Borough.
And Borough have now claimed a large part of the reason they were unable to come to a solution was that they were slapped with a 'potential bill of £30,000' within minutes of the meeting beginning.
The ground share would have been a temporary solution while Borough worked to upgrade their 3G pitch to Step 5 (Thurlow Nunn Premier Division) standard by March 31, 2019, after agreeing a special condition with the FSIF (Football Stadia Improvement Fund) - that funded the construction of the 3G - to play away from it for just one season to allow the necessary work.
As a further twist in the saga, the FA then told Borough that they would have to remain at The New Croft, leaving a ground share with Rovers on the grass pitch the only option to remain in the Premier Division.
But the HCSA have said the grass pitch had been independently assessed to be unable to support the weight of two Step 5 first team games in one season and, therefore, that Borough would need to front the costs of the work to upgrade it - which Borough have said they were told could cost as much as £30,000.
A Borough statement said: "What really struck us about the meeting with the HCSA on Wednesday night was how unconstructive it was.
"We expected to be attending a meeting where we would work with the HCSA to find a solution to allow Borough to keep playing in the Premier Division. What we were faced with, within minutes of sitting down, was a potential bill of £30,000 just to play on the grass pitch next season.
"The HCSA has apparently just received the report from the institute of groundsmen detailing the costs of pitch maintenance for the grass pitch for the 2018/9 season. With an additional 25 Borough games, the cost of maintenance will be £30,000 and the club would be expected to fund all of it.
"After this bombshell the rest of the meeting was somewhat pointless. Even if we had enough money to fund the improvements to the 3G we were never going to have that amount of money in the bank.
"The rest of the meeting also somewhat stalled when we failed to present business plans, construction timetables and grant applications for improvements to the 3G pitch. The club had asked for specific details surrounding the requirements needed to improve the stadium back in January which, although had been promised, were never given.
"The expectation of the HCSA, was that we would have sought them independently, potentially employing a project manager to produce detailed plans. Borough's belief that at least some of this work may have been done by the facility manager was deemed inappropriate.
"The meeting ended with the chairman restating the HCSA's position that they are responsible for the football pathway and must oversee development of the sport in the whole community.
"Haverhill Borough are only, as he described it, a 'bolt on' to this pathway which also includes the youth and women's football.
"The argument that the club retains a significant number of male senior footballers in the town, offering them an alternative footballing option, as well as providing a significant number of players for Haverhill Rovers did not seem to carry any weight.
"At the end of the meeting the club was assured it would be told of the committee's decision in the next 24 hours.
"No effort was made to communicate the result of the meeting directly to committee members prior to the press release. The resulting statement was published in the public domain, and senior committee members found out about the decision via messages from players and supporters."
The HCSA has said that they refute the statement and will consider a full response in due course.
Next week's Haverhill Echo will have further reaction to the decision from the HCSA and Haverhill Borough.