Members vote to send Diamonds to Rushden

Rushden & Higham United's Hayden Road ground is set to host AFC Rushden & Diamonds from the start of next season
Rushden & Higham United's Hayden Road ground is set to host AFC Rushden & Diamonds from the start of next season
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Members of AFC Rushden & Diamonds have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a groundshare at Rushden & Higham United’s Hayden Road home.

Diamonds chairman Ralph Burditt confirmed 94 per cent of the members who voted went for the option of going to Rushden once the club leaves Wellingborough Town’s Dog & Duck home at the end of the current campaign.

Diamonds and United Counties League Division One club Rushden & Higham are now set to meet this week to discuss what work needs to be done to bring the Hayden Road ground up to standard for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League with Diamonds currently pushing for a play-off place in Division One South.

The other options presented to members at a forum nearly two weeks ago were Sileby Rangers in Northampton and Kempston Rovers.

But, in the end, the lure of having the chance to play in Rushden proved to be the deciding factor.

“We had a very good turnout with 65 per cent of our members voting, which is excellent,” Burditt said.

“It is a growing membership with the offer we have had of becoming a member for £10.

“And the result was conclusive with 94 per cent voting for the Rushden & Higham option.

“To be honest, the quality of all three options that we were able to put forward was high and I was very pleased and proud to present them to our members.

“All three places would have been brilliant homes for the medium term and I think a lot of people were concerned about what the options would be leading up to the meeting.

“But once we knew that Rushden & Higham would like to work with us and host us at their ground, that was certainly something that I was immediately excited about.”

The task of bringing the facilities at Hayden Road up to the appropriate standard is something that will begin almost immediately.

In order to comply with ground grading regulations, the club is required to have a ground share agreement at a ground graded D or above in place by March 31, 2016 for the 2017-18 season.

Hayden Road does not currently hold this grade and, therefore, the club said in a statement that discussions have already commenced with some of those who have expressed an interest in hosting Diamonds for a short time while they work on Hayden Road with the outcome will be announced in due course.

And Burditt insists the the club will be relying heavily on volunteers and a “small fundraising campaign” to get the work done.

“In the immediate term, there’s a number of things that need to be done and we will be meeting with Rushden & Higham this week to start talking about some of those things,” Burditt added.

“We will be asking our members and supporters to put their names forward to volunteer for helping us with the work down at the ground.

“And we will be launching a small fundraising campaign to help with the costs and there will be lots of great ways that people can get involved in that.

“Our time frame will depend on the response from volunteers. There are a number of things that need to be done.

“Football grounds take a great deal of effort and we will need the help of people to get things done as quickly as possible. There’s a very real need for people to help us out.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can register their interest in doing so by emailing membership@afcdiamonds.com

Don’t miss more reaction to the result of the AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ members’ vote in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph