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Ashford United forced to postpone Ramsgate fixture because floodlights are not ready

Ashford's first home game of the season has been postponed because of a problem with their floodlights.

The Nuts & Bolts were due to host Ramsgate in Isthmian South East tonight (Tuesday) but the new lighting system required at Homelands has not yet been installed.

United issued a statement explaining the delay after confirming they would be without a midweek fixture.

The floodlights at Ashford's Homelands ground need replacing Picture: Paul Amos
The floodlights at Ashford's Homelands ground need replacing Picture: Paul Amos

The statement read: "Everyone at Ashford United has been fully aware of the problems facing us with our out-of-date pitch floodlighting.

"A programme was put in place to overhaul the current installation two years ago but after several attempts and costly repairs it was established that the switchgear installed 30 years ago was now beyond repair. Parts were now obsolete and impossible to change.

"Following the club’s attendance at last year’s league AGM we were persuaded by the FA Football Foundation to apply for a grant to totally renew the lighting for our entire floodlighting system and were given instructions as to their requirements.

"This coincided with the FA directive regarding the LUX or lighting levels if the club were to get promoted. The directive was to increase our LUX levels by at least 60% or we would not be compliant.

"We obtained many quotes and reports and settled for the best upgrade to satisfy all league and FA requirements. We made the formal application along with quotes to the FA as per their request last October. We were told on a number of occasions that the lights would be started by January this year.

Ashford manager Tommy Warrilow Picture: Wayne McCabe
Ashford manager Tommy Warrilow Picture: Wayne McCabe

"More importantly for the grant paying for our lights with a cost of £30,000 we were not allowed to touch or do any work on the lights until the grant had been approved by the FA. This contribution to our club is a massive help and for that we thank the FA Football Foundation for this support.

"However the delays kept coming putting the club under enormous pressure as the new season got closer and closer. The Isthmian League directors were fully supportive towards Ashford United understanding it was out of our control and indeed pressurised the FA to finalise our application with evening games looming.

"Tuesday just past we finally got the OK and the FA instructed the replacement of our floodlight system which was very welcome.

"Unfortunately, the appointed contractor has other commitments and with just over one week needed to complete the contract at Homelands, a start date is fixed for a couple of weeks time and we can’t complain after them waiting for the FA for so long.

"The league is, of course, fully supportive of our position and now we have the go-ahead we can move rapidly to alleviate any backlog in fixtures."

Action from Ashford's game against Ramsgate last season Picture: Paul Amos
Action from Ashford's game against Ramsgate last season Picture: Paul Amos

Ashford, who won 2-1 at Phoenix Sports on Saturday, are due to host Ramsgate in the Velocity Trophy on Tuesday, September 3 while Homelands is also the venue for a scheduled league game against Sittingbourne on Tuesday, September 17.

Manager Tommy Warrilow said: "It's dragged on and it's not the club's fault to be honest.

"They got the shout for the grant literally on the eve of the season so we couldn't really do a lot about it.

"The blame culture kicks in but it's not our fault. It's postponed and do you want a game?

"To be honest, a training session will probably benefit us more rather than going game-game-train.

"Hopefully that extra session will help us prepare for Saturday."

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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