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AFC Telford United in talks with FA in bid to replace collapsed pitch drainage

AFC Telford United are in talks with the Football Association for funding to replace ‘collapsed’ drains underneath the troubled New Bucks Head pitch.

AFC Telford United football operations manager Luke Shelley pictured left with University of Wolverhampton vice-chancellor Professor Geoff Layer and AFC Telford United chairman Andy Pryce.
AFC Telford United football operations manager Luke Shelley pictured left with University of Wolverhampton vice-chancellor Professor Geoff Layer and AFC Telford United chairman Andy Pryce.

The club believe that dated and clogged drains, likely to have been fitted in the construction of the new stadium between 2000 and 2003, are the source of the weathered surface which has badly deteriorated in recent months.

The issue was flagged to the FA via the National League as the Bucks have lost a number of games to the weather conditions this season – with tonight’s league visit of Curzon Ashton to be given every chance at going ahead but also a doubt.

The New Bucks Head pitch has been tested and inspected by several contractors, with soil samples taken away, but it is the infrastructure underneath the surface that is believed to be the source of the waterlogging.

Drainage replacement will go ahead this summer in a bid to end the pitch woe but the significant work will come at a cost.

AFC Telford hope they can assess vital funds with a grant from the FA’s Football Stadia Improvement Fund to cover the costs.

Football operations manager Luke Shelley said: “We believe the pitch is the worst it’s been in 17 or 18 years.

“Last month seven or eight contractors have come for a look. The FA know from the National League that we’ve got problems and experts have been out taking soil samples for assessment.

“The drains have never been replaced from when the ground was built in around 2000. They have collapsed. The top layer has been replaced but the problem is the infrastructure underneath.

“Things are happening behind the scenes and we’re speaking with the FA about the possibility of a grant or funding from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

“Wet conditions have also had a massive impact but the problem is this work should have been done two or three years ago.

“The drains will be replaced this year at a large cost and that’s what we’re trying to sort to solve the problem once and for all.”

The Bucks have been further hit by several Wolves under-23s postponements due to the state of the pitch, which has seen the Premier League’s youngsters play their fixtures elsewhere.

The club have received support from the Shropshire FA, who will work alongside all parties to help the process.

Shelley said: "We remain in talks with the Shropshire FA and in particular Mick Murphy who will be supporting us with applications, the support they have shown us throughout has been vital."

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