Institute's vice-chairman Andrew Russell admits demolishing Riverside Stadium is best for club

Institute’s Vice-Chairman Andrew Russell admits it’s a bittersweet moment with the news that club’s old Riverside Stadium ground has been approved for demolition.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 6:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2022, 6:41 pm

The Waterside club were forced to leave their Drumahoe home after it was destroyed in the floods of August 2017 and then unable to return after an infestation of Japanese Knotweed but Russell believes the knocking down of the venue is “what’s best for the club”.

“Myself, along with members, supporters, players, coaching staff, managers and former members, we have all had great memories from the Riverside Stadium and we have a lot of history in Drumahoe but at the same time, we have to move on,” stated Mr. Russell.

“Part of our moving on is this whole de-construction of the Riverside process which has really been enforced on us by the flood and by us being unable to get flood insurance. We have to make this move to ensure the long term security of the football club.”

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Pictured in 2020 the main stand at Institute’s old Riverside Stadium ground. Picture by JPJPhotography

The Drumahoe native stressed that everyone connected with the local club hopes to get ’Stute back to the Waterside with Clooney Park West their preferred location for a new ground, though they aren’t putting any timescale on the project just yet.

“Clooney Park West had obviously been identified as the preferred venue for Institute Football Club,” he added, “But there’s an on-going process in relation to the Clooney Park West masterplan that we are involved in.

“We’re awaiting further details from The Department for Communities in relation to their future requirements for that site.

“If it isn’t there, then we’ll have to try and secure another site but that’s our preferred option and that’s where we’re going to try and relocate to. However, there’s nothing set in stone and there’s nothing certain.

Andrew Russell, Institute's Vice-Chairman.

“That process remains an on-going process, one which we have been involved in for a number of years. We have had communications regarding that site for around four years now but obviously the department will have it’s processes that it has to go through and we have to await the outcome of those.

“Any time scale is very, very uncertain in relation to land becoming available that we can acquire tenure for, or funding becoming available and obviously you also have the statutory requirements for planning and being successful in any future planning applications.

“There are a lot of other considerations that we’re working on but nothing is ever certain in this world. We are going to give it our all, which we have done over the last number of years, and we’re going to keep giving it our best to try and bring this club back to the Waterside as soon as possible.”

Russell also admitted that the club will now continue discussions with YMCA to determine the insurance pay-out for the Riverside Stadium.

“One of the processes was obviously the planning to get the Riverside demolished and return the land to greenfield use and now that we have been successful of getting that, the whole process will be the club entering into discussions with the landlord and the insurance company about how to move this forward,” he added.

Russell explained that fans should receive more information at the club’s Annual General Meeting which takes place at Brigade CC on Wednesday, June 15th, at 8pm.

“We are hoping over the coming days we’ll get the full report from the council and will be able to have a bit more news at our AGM next week,” he concluded.

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