Tadcaster Albion FC are facing collapse after Storms Ciara and Dennis wreaked havoc at their ground.
Devastating flooding could spell the end for one of Yorkshire’s leading semi-professional football clubs.
A two-metre steel fence erected to protect the stadium was demolished by the sheer force of the water when the River Wharfe burst its banks on Sunday February 9. The pitch, boiler and clubhouse are submerged and a newly-built facility for visiting officials has been completely destroyed. At least £40,000 is needed for urgent repairs.
Since 2015, when the site last suffered severe flood damage, the club have been unable to obtain insurance cover, and must self-raise funds to keep themselves in existence.
Tadcaster Albion was founded in 1892 and the team were originally affiliated to the nearby John Smith’s brewery. They play in the Northern Premier League and often host Leeds United Under 23s fixtures.
Chairman Andy Charlesworth said members and volunteers would struggle to review the situation and reach a decision until Storm Dennis, which is expected to hit Yorkshire this weekend, had passed. An emergency directors’ meeting was held on February 12 and attendees concluded that the club faced the possibility of being disbanded.
“We have 1.7 metres of water all over our facilities. There is at least an inch of mud everywhere. It got into the clubhouse through the floor and the roof, the boiler has flooded. We are going to batten down the hatches this weekend and then see where we go from there.
“It’s the worst since 2015. The water came over the top of the barriers - it was like a tidal wave. The clubhouse is a metre above ground level but it still flooded. We can’t get insurance any more and we have used up all of our cash reserves - we have nothing left.”
The senior team do not have a home game until March 17, and will consider hiring pitches elsewhere - but the club have already been forced to cancel a Leeds United Under 23s fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers which was due to be played at the ground next Friday.
The flooding also came just days after volunteers had cleaned and painted the facilities ahead of an FA ground grading inspection next week.
“The Leeds United Under 23s games are a great revenue stream for us and we’ve now lost that. We will lose income from the bar as well, and from functions booked at the clubhouse.
“We are having discussions with anyone who could help us, including Leeds United. People are rallying round - we even had a pensioner come in and donate £100. We need the council, our MP and the FA to step in and help out.
“The breweries don’t have much involvement with us. We have no relationship with Samuel Smith’s and Heineken (who own John Smith’s) have not shown much interest. It’s usually the smaller businesses who get involved - but to a big company like Heineken, £3-4,000 is nothing.
“Everybody is in shock but people are doing whatever they can. We’ve had offers of help with the clean-up, but we are holding off until after Storm Dennis.”
A West Riding FA delegation is due to visit the stadium this week to assess damage.
“Last time our insurance claim was £200,000 because we had to rewire all of the floodlights. We haven’t been able to test them yet, so we don’t know whether they’ve been damaged. To repair the roof, floor, boiler, fences and pitch will be around £40,000.
“We just can’t keep doing this.”
A Justgiving page has been set up with a £12,000 fundraising target which has gained over £4,000 in days. Donate at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/savetafc