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Tonbridge Angels attempting to raise £35,000 for pitch repairs, while National League give green light to neutral venues

Tonbridge Angels have set up a crowdfunder in a bid to raise money for pitch repairs.

Angels continue to suffer, with Saturday’s game against Eastbourne and Tuesday’s derby against Maidstone postponed.

Tonbridge Angels manager Steve McKimm Picture: David Couldridge
Tonbridge Angels manager Steve McKimm Picture: David Couldridge

The National League South outfit are looking to raise £35,000 which would go on repairs and state-on-the-art covers to protect the Longmead pitch.

In the long term, the community-owned club are to explore the possibility of installing a 3G pitch and have set up a working party to establish what’s involved.

The Eastbourne game has been rearranged for next Tuesday and, with the weather set to improve, there is “cautious optimism” it will go ahead.

They have also been given the nod to play home games at a neutral venue.

Communications director Jim Rowe said: “Looking at the weather forecast, there is cautious optimism we may be able to play our next home fixture at Longmead.

“We do have permission from the league to switch fixtures to a neutral ground, we do have that in principle, but clearly we’d rather not have to do that.

“If we get a little bit of warmer weather and a little more sunshine – I know that’s in the lap of the gods – we do feel the pitch will dry out.

“That’s not a long-term solution. You’ll see from the crowdfunding that we do need to make some fairly significant repairs to the pitch.

“We fully accept the drainage is not working correctly – it’s clearly unable to cope with the record rainfall we’ve had – and there isn’t really enough topsoil to protect what’s underneath so we recognise that just getting good weather is not enough.

“But, having said that, if we can get the pitch dried out, it will allow us to play some of our games, if not all, back at Longmead.

“The league have been understanding. Their own contractor carried out an inspection as well last week and they’ve come back quickly and said, yes, in principle, in order to complete your home fixture programme, you can play on a neutral ground.

“They haven’t given us any specific deadlines but I’d imagine the quicker we get the games played, the better.

“Leagues, generally, get nervous if too many fixtures are pushed into the very last week.

“There’s always this demand, quite rightly, that the campaign is completed by 5pm on Saturday, April 25, for obvious reasons, because play-offs have to be organised.”

Rowe says owners and supporters have been “extremely generous” since the club appealed for financial help to get through the season, adding there is clearly a “deep affection” for Tonbridge Angels.

An owners’ meeting took place at Longmead on Thursday last week, when short and long-term measures were discussed.

Rowe said: “The owners have given the board the authority to look at getting, as a shorter-term solution, state-of-the-art covers.

“We’re not talking rickety old tarpaulin, I’m told these are covers used by Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. That’s something we can do relatively quicker.

“In the longer term the owners have also given us the remit to look at what would be involved in getting an all-weather pitch.

“We know they don’t come cheap. There may be grants available, so we’ve set up a working party to look at all the aspects of how we could at some stage install an all-weather pitch.”

Tonbridge visit Concord this Saturday.

To donate to the crowdfunder, click here

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