A Cheltenham football club is set to start the new season with no home ground after a fire caused extensive damage to its changing rooms.
Falcons AFC has teams in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League’s second division and the Cheltenham League’s third division.
The club is based at the Beeches Playing Field in Charlton Kings but says February’s suspected arson attack has left it without changing rooms with the new season just about to start.
Treasurer Richard Gamble said the site, which is managed by the borough council, had not been repaired by the authority.
He said: “Essentially, nothing has happened. Because of COVID-19 the council have not organised the repairs. Our league starts on September 12 and we’re a bit stuck for a ground.
“We will be unable to use the pitch without changing rooms due to our league requirements. Toilet facilities are required before, during and for half an hour after the game. As the changing rooms are unable to be used, we can’t play there at the moment.”
He said the club was still looking at alternative venues but due to certain league criteria, mainly the size of the pitch and the facilities needed, it was particularly difficult.
It had been looking to use the 3G pitch at the Oxstalls Sports Centre in Gloucester as it did last season but as this is not open after 2pm on Saturdays due to the impact of the pandemic, it is unable to use this pitch either.
Mr Gamble added that the council had been very helpful, trying to help the club to solve its crisis – even looking into the option of portable toilets being provided.
He added: “The only frustration is the time it is taking to get the changing rooms repaired. It’s been six months since the incident and nothing has happened.
“Granted, COVID-19 has had an impact in the delay but we do have tradesmen internally, including roofers, electricians, plumbers and scaffolders, that were willing to repair the changing rooms. Due to the council’s tender process they would not allow the work to be undertaken by us.”
Gary Angove, Cheltenham Borough Council’s senior building surveyor said: “Following the impact of COVID-19, we are continuing to work with the insurance company loss adjusters to carry out the remedial works as quickly as possible, so that the community can benefit from the pavilion.
“Currently the government advice is that attendees should be encouraged to arrive at facilities in their kits and where possible to travel home to change or shower.
“Hopefully, this guidance will allow the team to begin to play again while the works are being undertaken.”