SKELMERSDALE United will have to play their ‘home’ matches at Burscough FC’s stadium after the pitch at its JMO Sports Park failed a ‘FIFA Bounce Test’.
Skem will now kick off the 2022/23 season by playing their home matches at the Community Ground, off Bobby Langton Way, after agreeing to groundshare with Burscough FC.
The switch of home venues so late in the pre-season calendar is far from ideal for the club as it prepares for its first campaign back in the Northern Premier League West after winning promotion last season.
Gordon Johnson, who recently took over as chairman at Skem, hopes the move will only be a temporary measure and said they could return to JMO Sports Park at some point during the new season.
Mr Johnson said “issues were raised” with the pitch back in April and how it would need “remedial work” in order to pass the FIFA Bounce Test.
This is a specific requirement for all clubs playing at Step 6 and above in the football pyramid and Skem were told by the FA and the Northern Premier League that this needed to be addressed by July 31.
Mr Johnson said because the club are only tenants on the ground, the provision of such work is the responsibility of the landlords - JMO Sports Park.
He said: “The club were given numerous reassurances by JMO Sports that the required remedial work and testing would be completed within the required timescales, but as part of the agreement with the football authorities we were instructed that an appropriate groundshare agreement should also be put in place to cover any unforeseen circumstances.
“Despite numerous assurances given to our club by JMO Sports the remedial pitch repair work has never been started and the pitch will not be ready for certification ahead of our first home game of the season versus Padiham FC in the FA Cup.
“Agreement has been reached to activate our groundshare agreement with Burscough FC, to whom we are eternally thankful too, as it now allows the club to start our 140th season on August 6.”
He added: “As a club we can only apologise to each and every one of our loyal supporters and fan base which has steadily grown again since our return to the town two seasons ago.
“Please bear with us and continue to support the team.
“I can categorically assure you that the club over the last three months has been doing everything possible to prevent the scenario we have ended up in occurring but have been unable to influence the progression of much needed pitch work at the JMO Sports Park ground.”