Northern Ireland football club's ground hit by major fire - arson suspected
A major fire destroyed part of Institute FC’s Riverside football ground on Friday night.
The changing room block and supporters room at the rear of the grounds at Drumahoe on the outskirts of Londonderry was badly damaged in what club officials believe to be an arson attack which occurred just after 7.30pm on Friday night.
It is the second time in a year Institute’s home at Riverside Stadium has been damaged.
Last August the ground was deluged by 7ft of water during severe flooding that hit the area.
The team have not been able to play at the grounds since.
Institute’s Vice Chairman Andrew Russell says any hopes of returning to their spiritual home have now been dashed.
“Someone seems to have set fire to the former changing block and it really has been burnt to the ground," he said. "There is nothing left. So whatever hope people have had of us returning to Riverside, there is very little left. The whole building block has been completely burnt through the roof.
“All the changing rooms, the home/away block, the referee facilities, the first aid rooms and supporters room have all been completely destroyed.
“The electric has been isolated since the flood and the police are down there now holding the scene and the only real thought is that it was arson.”
Mr Russell said that the club members and players are "heartbroken" over the incident.
“We are distraught again,” he said.
“This is really the second time in 12 months after the flood in August that we have had players down again looking at the ground in total dismay at what they have been met with.
"Riverside has meant a lot for a lot of people for a number of years, they have been put in a lot of hard work into this ground and to see it hit twice in the space of a year is absolutely heartbreaking."
Police are treating the fire, which is thought to have stated at an oil tank as suspicious and have appealed for information.
Belfast Telegraph Digital