Haverhill Borough’s future is in the hands of their New Croft landlords, with the facility’s board likely to have to make the decision on whether the Blues will be allowed to ground share with Rovers next season.
It is the latest in the ongoing ground grading saga for the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side, who were given until March 31 to find a solution to the fact their 3G home is graded a level below that required for their league.
As the FA deadline came and went on Easter Saturday, however, chairman Dave Hardwick revealed he had requested an extension after learning Borough would have to stay at The New Croft and, therefore, that their only option would be to share Rovers’ grass pitch.
He said the FA had visited The New Croft on Thursday last week, a visit he thought was likely behind the granting of the extension, and was pleased the national football body had taken the time to consider their request.
Hardwick said the extension had been granted until the end of April, and negotiations could now begin between the owners of The New Croft facility, the Haverhill Community Sports Association (HCSA), and the football club.
He said: “It’s a slow process it seems, and frustrating that we can’t make these decisions ourselves, that’s the problem with being a tenant rather than owner.
“So we need to sit down with the HCSA in the next week or so to start talks over using the grass pitch.”
He said the club had no representation on the HCSA board but felt confident a neutral decision would be made, with most members neither specific Borough or Rovers supporters.
“I’m sure they will consider all the things we put to them and will make the decision that is best for the facility,” Hardwick said.
“Obviously we think that would be to continue to have Borough, as well as Rovers, playing at The New Croft in as high a league as possible and we will be arguing that.
“We’re prepared to look at all the options and into funding options too, if required, to help maintain the pitch, it’s all on the table.”
Ali Shulver, acting chairman of Haverhill Rovers following the departure of Malcolm Luff on health grounds, said he would be concerned about the impact of two Premier Division clubs playing on the grass pitch.
The youth coach, also a HCSA board member, said: “It’s heavy play on the grass pitch and it’s already struggling and that would be a concern.
“We hire and pay to play on the pitch and if the quality of it goes down as a result of more play, then so should our bill.
“I do feel for Borough’s situation but my focus has to be on Rovers and I don’t think the pitch could deal with it.”
But Hardwick said the clubs had long shared the pitch, before the 3G was completed in September 2016, with it ‘withstanding’ the heavy schedule.
“I don’t see why it can’t again. If the pitch is bad then it’s bad, I don’t think it can get worse,” he added.
HCSA facilities manager Peter Betts said the board did not yet have a decision to make, as they were awaiting confirmation from the FA that certain paperwork had been submitted ahead of the March 31 deadline.
He said: “We are waiting for this confirmation, as they had requested certain information from Borough — such as evidence of the Football Foundation decision to let them spend a year away — before Saturday’s deadline.
“Until we have that, we don’t have a decision to make.”
He said he will know more after a meeting on Monday evening as the situation continues to develop.