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Plant infestation forces Institute to find new permanent home as nightmare season continues

Championship side Institute's nightmare season is continuing as they look set to be forced into leaving their home ground.

The club have played home games at Drumahoe's Riverside Stadium since 1980 but that run as tenants looks to be at an end because of a Japanese Knotwood infestation.

The ground was flooded back in August when the water level almost submerged the goal-posts. Club chairman Bill Anderson then told the Belfast Telegraph that the damage was "really, really gutting."

"I'm gutted for the club and gutted for the volunteers who have all put in a lot of work over the summer in terms of the pitch and the refubishment of the changing rooms," continued Anderson.

Since then, the club have agreed a deal to play their home games at Wilton Park in Londonderry's Limavady Road for the remainder of the current season.

But the combination of the knotweed infestation, which can take years to eradicate, and ground insurance in the wake of the floods mean the club's stay at Drumahoe is all but certainly at a more permanent end.

And so, with things going well on the pitch at least, the team second in the table and in contention for promotion to the Premiership, Stute's search for a new home is on. Derry City's Brandywell Stadium, the Limavady Showgrounds and the Stadium Pitch at St Columb's Park are all targets that could fit the bill.

“We are currently negotiating with the YMCA about our lease and we are actively seeking potential relocation,” Anderson told the Derry Journal. “We have already started the ball rolling with regards to looking at the start of next season. It would require us to look at potential grounds shares.

“I know there’s an emotional connection with the Riverside Stadium and there will be a lot of people who will feel sad and sorry to the leave the Riverside Stadium if it happens, however if it’s about the long term future of the club, we have to consider what’s the right thing to do.

“I feel the future of the club is threatened if we don’t resolve this issue amicably with the YMCA and we are able to identify a new location.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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