Burditt insists Diamonds will overcome threat of a Dog & Duck exit

Defiant AFC Rushden & Diamonds chairman Ralph Burditt insists the prospect of the club being made homeless is 'another obstacle we will get around'.

Friday, 22nd July 2016, 7:30 am
AFC Rushden & Diamonds chairman Ralph Burditt

It’s looking likely that Diamonds’ ground share agreement at the Dog & Duck will come to an end after the forthcoming season after Wellingborough Town’s landlord invoke a clause on their lease which means they will have to vacate the site by May 31 next year.

Diamonds are currently preparing for an Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South campaign after they reached the Southern League Division One Central play-off final last season.

And while manager Andy Peaks focuses on the season ahead, off the pitch Diamonds are now on the hunt for a new home and a possible ground share elsewhere in the local area.

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It’s a problem for Burditt and his board after the fans’ owned club informed their members of the situation at their annual meeting on Wednesday night.

But, after the work that’s gone in to get the club formed and then rising up the league, Burditt insists they will face the latest problem head on.

“Obviously we are somewhat dependent on Wellingborough’s negotiations with their landlord but we will work with them to try to do what’s best for both clubs,” he said.

“From our point of view, we have to start looking for somewhere else to ground share because we can’t take any risks with our ability to play.

“We have to be proactive because we have worked damn hard to get here.

“No discussions have started with anyone because we wanted to wait until the situation was made public. But we have the numbers of the right people we need to speak to.

“One member said to me at the meeting on Wednesday about the possibility of dropping to Step 5 to increase our options for ground sharing.

“But we have worked hard to get to Step 4 and our aim now is to stay at this level and possibly go higher, not back.

“It’s difficult and very frustrating.

“Our manager Andy Peaks often says ‘in football, just when you think you have cracked it something can come back and bite you’ and sadly, it’s true.

“What’s even more frustrating is that the Dog & Duck probably looks the best it has done since we have been there. Every year, our volunteers and those from Wellingborough work very hard to improve the facilities.

“It’s frustrating we have come to this stage after all that work, especially after the fire at the clubhouse last season, which caused financial loss for the two clubs.

“It’s another kick. But our club has come across many obstacles before and it’s another one that we will get around.

“We have the right people within our board and membership, we will stand strong and I hope that whatever we do can be of benefit to Wellingborough as well.”

While Diamonds’ search for a new ground share option will now get under way, the Doughboys’ future is looking uncertain with club officials conceding the club could fold if they are forced out of the Dog & Duck.

And Burditt believes it would be a “catastrophe” for the local game if that were to happen.

He added: “We are fortunate that we can look for a ground share but for Wellingborough, as people at the club have acknowledged, they are genuinely fearful that this could be the end for them.

“It’s coming up to the 150th anniversary of when they first played and if this was to cost them everything then it would be a catastrophe for local football.”

Diamonds, meanwhile, made it an NFA county cup double as they continued their pre-season preparations at the Dog & Duck last night.

They beat a Peterborough United XI 4-2 on penalties to lift the Maunsell Cup after the two teams had shared a 2-2 draw in 90 minutes.

Aaron Williams headed the visitors in front before Sam Brown levelled for Diamonds on the stroke of half-time.

Taylor Orosz put the hosts in front but Lewis Freestone struck to send the game to a shootout, during which Matt Finlay saved two spot-kicks to help seal the cup success for Diamonds.