Rye pitch out of action for weeks

The cracked pitch at The Salts in Rye
The cracked pitch at The Salts in Rye

Rye Town Football Club is facing the prospect of being unable to play at its home ground for around a month.

The East Sussex League Premier Division team has been told by landowner Rother District Council that all games at The Salts will have to be cancelled until at least the second week in October due to cracks in the pitch.

Rye manager Shane Ridgers said: “We were notified last week there was a problem and this week we had an email saying we can’t play at The Salts until at least the second week of October.

“There’s some cracks in there, but you can’t tell me it takes a minimum of five weeks to get some soil to put in the cracks to fill them and some seed to get that growing.

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“We would do it ourselves, no problem at all, but the council don’t let us doing anything.”

Rye have their first home fixture of the season, against Robertsbridge United, tomorrow (Saturday). That match is expected to take place at Hollington United FC with a 4pm kick-off.

“It’s not good,” Ridgers continued. “We don’t want to play all our home games over in Hastings.

“Also we’re in early talks with getting a pitch marked out down the (Rye) rugby club. We’ve been training down the rugby club anyway, but our home is The Salts.”

The Salts is also used for youth football matches so those games will have to be played elsewhere too.

Ridgers’ frustration is compounded by the fact that Rye had a home fixture cancelled towards the end of last season in April due to the condition of the pitch.

A Rother District Council spokesman said: “Unfortunately, we have had to close the pitches at The Salts as cracks have opened up in the ground following the unusually warm and dry weather we’ve experienced over the summer.

“We have arranged for extra work to be carried out on the pitches at this location but it will take time, and more rainfall, before the ground begins to close up again.

“We have a duty to ensure people using the pitches can do so safely and we’re not able to do that with the pitches in their current condition.

“We’re sorry for any inconvenience but this is due to circumstances outside our control and we are working to get the pitches playable again as soon as possible.”

Ridgers expects to add ‘five or six key players’ to the squad for tomorrow’s game, including prolific forward Charlie Stevens.