ARUNDEL Football Club have been hit hard by the recent storms and bad weather which has seen their Mill Road ground severely flooded.
The pitch was under more than a foot and a half of water earlier this week, while the clubhouse and changing rooms have also been damaged.
Mullets joint manager Simon Butler admitted it is a worrying time for the club and, although Mill Road is well-known for flooding, this is the worst he has ever seen it.
Arundel are scheduled to host Shoreham in County League Division 1 on Saturday and then Chichester on Tuesday night, but Butler believes it will be at least two weeks before they can play at home again.
The club is on the River Arun floodplain and, with homes in the town at risk of damage when the river burst its bank, flood gates were opened to allow water onto the surrounding low flat ground, which includes the land the football club lies on.
The club has also endured the extra cost of calling in tree surgeons to remove dangerous broken branches, which were risking further damage to the clubhouse.
They now face more bills as a number of fence panels need replacing and repairs to floodlights, which broke before Christmas, have not been carried out owing to the flood water restricting access.
Butler said: “I think, in the area, we are the worst hit. Looking at it, it seems it’s a worrying time for the whole club at the moment. It has never been this bad in all the years I’ve known it.
“There is nothing we can do about it until they close the gates and then we can start pumping the water off, although there are more high tides forecast this week and that is what affects it.
“There is some damage to the clubhouse and up to the changing rooms, but we haven’t been able to get in there yet – hopefully, it is minor.
“Realistically, we are looking at two weeks, I think. Even if the gates are closed and we pump the water out, it will be very soft underfoot and then there’s the worry about frost.
“Being close to the river, as lovely as it is, has its pitfalls, we will just have to try to get on with it as best we can. I feel for the chairman Bob (Marchant) as he does so much at the club and it’s run on a shoestring budget, financially things like this have big implications.
“It’s all very worrying, as is the financial implication, as the car park is flooded and as there is no way to the clubhouse, there has been no social revenue and, at grassroots football, it is paramount to get in the small revenue you can.”
Mullets, who last played on December 14, already face a huge fixture backlog and Butler believes this will cause yet more problems on the pitch.
He said: “It’s been so many weeks without football and we can’t train as the school we had been using was closed all over Christmas, we are back there on Thursday and we have been asking the boys to go out running.
“Even now, we’ll definitely be playing Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday come the end of the season.
“It’s a big concern on the football side as with a backlog of fixtures come injuries and suspensions and it’s hard to get that consistency of players.”