FOOTBALL: Institute to move away from Drumahoe

Institute's Riverside Stadium was severely damaged in the flood in August.
Institute's Riverside Stadium was severely damaged in the flood in August.

Institute look set to leave the Riverside Stadium because of a Japanese Knotweed infestation.

Club chairman Bill Anderson has confirmed that the club may have to relocate from their Drumahoe base.

Anderson also admitted that since August floods, the ground has been infested by Japanese Knotweed, a rapidly-growing plant, which could take between five to 10 years to treat.

Having been a tenant at the Drumahoe venue since 1980, Anderson stated that the club are in discussions with both the YMCA and the Derry and Strabane Council about a possible move.

“We are currently negotiating with the YMCA about our lease and we are actively seeking potential relocation,” he stated.

“Discussions are on going with the YMCA at the minute and we have already started the ball rolling with regards to looking at the start of next season, because if we are in the Premiership and even if we do relocate then I don’t think we would have a stadium up and running for the start of next season.

“It would require us to look at potential grounds shares.”

While Anderson wouldn’t confirm what potential grounds were on the club’s radar, it’s believed the refurbished Brandywell Stadium, Limavady United’s Showgrounds and possibly the Stadium Pitch at St Columb’s Park all possible targets.

“We have a Japanese Knotweed infestation at the ground, we know that and this a very serious problem, as it has be very difficult to eradicate, in fact in some cases it can take a number of years to kill it; so we have had to start discussions for the club’s future and because of that nothing is being ruled in or out,” added the ’Stute chairman.

“I also believe it will be difficult to get insurance for the ground in the absent of substantial flood defenses, which as a club we could not afford.”

Anderson also concedes that if the club decide to relocate from their home of over three decades it will be a massive decision, but he also admits that he and the committee needs to think of the long term plan for the Bluefin Championship side.

“I know there’s an emotional connection with the Riverside Stadium, because built it up from nothing,” he added.

“I know there will be a lot of people who will feel sad and sorry to the leave the Riverside Stadium if it happens, however if it’s about the long term future of the club, we have to consider what’s the right thing to do for the club to ensure it’s long term future.

“I feel the future of the club is threatened if we don’t resolve this issue amicably with the YMCA and we are able to identify a new location.”

Anderson feels that everyone at the club from committee level to players and supporters are all pulling in the one direction and want the Waterside men to keep progressing.

“Look we have a very strong group of people at the club, including our squad,” he continued.

“Our squad has been doing outstanding on the pitch and we have held together throughout all these difficulties and Paddy (McLaughlin), his coaching staff and players are a credit to the club.”