BARRY RFC’s pitch problems are proving a serious financial threat to the club.

No home league matches took place in the run up to Christmas and the financial impact on the club has been huge.

Report by Ken Watkins

Barry RFC say the Reservoir Field pitches are suffering from waterlogging, with no home league matches taking place in the run up to Christmas, and a consequent loss of vital income.

With the last three first team home games ruled out because of an unfit main pitch, club chairman Jon Venners has called on Welsh Water, the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the WRU for a full investigation to get to the root of the problem.

“The lack of games is having an extremely detrimental effect on our players’ and supporters’ morale, and our reputation in WRU Division 1 East Central. And it is potentially extremely damaging to our business,” said Mr Venners. “This is the worst the pitch has ever been. There has been a significant change in the last two years.

“We must consider contingency plans for future games to go ahead, for example hiring the 3G pitch at our local school,” he added. “Our takings at the bar vary from £1,500 to £2,500 per home game. Should we play at the school we cannot guarantee people returning to the club for a drink.”

It is understood that the cost of remedial work could be £110,000. At present available grants would total no more than £20,000. The cost could be even higher as drone photographs show what appear to be striation marks under the main pitch.

Leigh Williams and Lauren Holloway from WRU Club Development have visited the club.

“They took soil samples from the top part of the pitch adjacent to the reservoir, and from the opposite end nearest the clubhouse,” said Mr Venners.

“The soil sample from the top part of the reservoir end was significantly soaked deep down in comparison to the soil sample from the other end. Playing a match would not have been possible because of the dire condition of the pitch.”

Barry And District News: The club is struggling with waterlogged pitchesThe club is struggling with waterlogged pitches (Image: Barry RFC)

Barry And District News: The club's second pitch was marked out for a match and two days later the tracks of the white lining machine remain all too obviousThe club's second pitch was marked out for a match and two days later the tracks of the white lining machine remain all too obvious (Image: Barry RFC)

Construction work to the north of the Reservoir Field has taken place, and is ongoing to the south.

Welsh Water have recently undertaken a major project, and the club has asked the relevant authorities to investigate whether these may have contributed to the problem.

Welsh Water have offered to investigate their infrastructure surrounding the reservoir. Vale of Glamorgan Council have offered to carry out a survey of the saturated ground.

“Pre-season we carried out extensive maintenance on all our pitches,” Mr Venners added. “All were vertidrained, and the top pitch was fertilised and seeded. This cost over £4,000 which is a significant amount for our club.”

The club, which has more than 500 members in all age groups, is in negotiations with the Vale Council to take on a 99-year lease on the whole area.

Signing the lease will help to take the club forward, said Venners, “but the WRU advice to us is to not sign until the Reservoir Field is fit to take over.”