Bury Town FC possible move to share West Suffolk Athletics Arena ‘not welcomed’ by athletics club

Ram Meadow's waterlogged pitch in 2010

Ram Meadow's waterlogged pitch in 2010 - Credit: Archant

A mooted move for Bury Town FC to the West Suffolk Athletics Arena would put athletics in the area at risk, it has been claimed.

Members of the West Suffolk Athletics Club, who use the Beetons Way facilities, have said the possible groundshare would not be welcome.

The idea was put forward by a St Edmundsbury Borough councillor in a bid to solve the waterlogged pitch and ‘inadequate’ facilities problems at the football club’s Ram Meadow ground.

However, with the athletics club featuring high performing hammer and javelin throwers, the potential for sharing the infield pitch has been questioned.

Vice-chair of the club, Ray Radley, said: “Obviously we are not very pleased with it it. The hammer [throw], the damage it does to the pitch, I can’t imagine the football club would be very happy with that.

“I think, we have not decided it officially, but I can’t imagine that we would be very much in favour of it at all.

“There are far too many problems associated with it. There are scheduling issues, how are we going to hold our competitions in the summer? It would not be welcome.”

Mr Radley stressed that no official decision has been made, and they have had no approaches from the council, who own the athletics arena.

Most Read

The athletics club has over 160 members, currently with a waiting list due to a lack of coaches.

Odile Wladon, assistant secretary at the club, said: “I hope that when considering any move to the athletics track for Bury Town FC the council think about, and seek the views of, the two clubs that already use the track on a regular basis.

“Consideration should also be given to the competitions that are held at the track by clubs, schools and county associations.”

One member of the club, who did not want to be named, claimed that while the Bury Town FC move could be profitable for the owners, it could end up forcing athletics out completely.

The proposal came in the wake of a collapsed move to state-of-the-art facilities in Moreton Hall for Bury Town FC, when Suffolk FA withdrew £250,000 in funding.

Both the club and the council have not ruled out the idea, claiming they are open to all options.

However, they did highlight opposition from The FA, who do not view athletics tracks around football pitches very favourably.

Independent councillor David Nettleton, member for the Risbygate ward, put forward the idea.

In response to the criticism he said: “That [damage to the pitch] may well be the case, but it would be examined in full, hopefully by people who do not have a vested interest in the either site.

“They [the clubs] would of course be consulted; they would be consulted to the Nth degree.

“I am sure there are ways of making the site viable and they would have to be looked at.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter