Institute FC: Floods may force club from Riverside stadium

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Media captionThe grounds were flooded in August following heavy rain.

Difficulties getting insurance after devastating floods earlier this year may force a County Londonderry football club from its home ground.

Riverside Stadium in Drumahoe, the home of Institute FC, was severely damaged by flooding in August.

Bill Anderson said the Northern Ireland Championship club has been informed it would be now "very difficult to get flood insurance" for the ground.

The pitch sits on the banks of the River Faughan.

Mr Anderson told BBC Radio Foyle: "It doesn't look like we are going to get flood insurance.

"That would mean that if we invest a lot of money back into the ground and something like that happened again we would be in a very, very difficult position.

"The future of the club would be at stake. This is a very difficult situation for us because it would break our hearts to leave the Riverside Stadium."

Image copyright Institute FC
Image caption The club's Riverside Stadium was severely damaged by the August flooding

Founded in 1905, the Drumahoe-based club moved to its current Riverside home in 1980.

The stadium, which has a capacity of 3,000, underwent a £1m upgrade in 2010.

The club lease the ground from Londonderry YMCA and are ten years into a 25-year lease.

Mr Anderson said the post-flooding growth of Japanese Knotweed - a fast growing noxious plant - on the pitch further compounded the club's problems.

Image caption Mr Anderson said the club was caught between a "rock and a hard place" and was exploring all options

"We really just can't see anyway that we can get around these two major issues - a lack of flood insurance and Japanese knotweed, " he added.

Mr Anderson said the club is currently in discussions with Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Irish Football Association (IFA) and current landlords at the Riverside, the Londonderry YMCA.

"If we don't consider other options then we are putting the club in jeopardy," he said.

"We would like to play football regularly, like to have a home base, like to be able to train in one location.

"I think the Brandywell (home of Derry City FC) is certainly an option, I think we have to discuss that. There are ongoing discussions at the minute with council and the IFA," he said.

Mr Anderson said the club was speaking to the YMCA about the lease as the ground was "no longer fit for purpose".

William Lamrock from the YMCA said he did "not think there was any certainty that Institute cannot play at Drumahoe".

Institute FC is playing home games at Wilton Park in Derry's Waterside for the rest of this season.

The August floods saw almost two-thirds of the north west's average monthly rain fall in a single night.

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