Nothing’s Crystal clear on pitch yet

Banbridge Rangers are hoping to play their home games at Crystal Park this season.
Banbridge Rangers are hoping to play their home games at Crystal Park this season.

With the new season now underway, any prospect of Banbridge Rangers playing their home matches at Crystal Park is in the hands of Banbridge Town.

That’s, according to Banbridge District Council’s Area Facility Officer Victor Willis, due to their Mid-Ulster League Intermediate A rules.

Despite reports last month that the ground-share would be happening this season, no agreement has yet taken place.

The clubs first discussed the proposal back in January when the council were consulted about the use of the pitch.

Banbridge District Council own the playing surface but the Crystal Park changing facilities are owned by Banbridge Town.

Even though the council have agreed to grant Rangers use of the pitch, they need to use Town’s facilities.

“Rangers could have used the Cheney Park changing rooms but they are too far from the pitch for the league rules,” said Willis.

“As far as I’m concerned, the pitch is a council pitch and is available for Banbridge Rangers, as it would be for any other club.

“The changing rooms are a different story. It’s unfortunate that the council only have four changing rooms for three pitches but who knows what’s around the corner.

“It’s in the hands of Banbridge Town now. We can’t force anything on Banbridge Town and we can’t get involved.

“It’s really nothing to do with the council now. It’s down to the clubs and whatever agreement they can come up with.

“If Rangers really want to play on grass, we have said that they could ground-share with Seapatrick at Havelock Park and Scarva is also available.”

Rangers play their first game of the season tomorrow (Wednesday) at home to Tandragee Rovers. That game is set to be played at Havelock Park (kick-off 6.30pm).

Willis also took the chance to confirm that Newry team Orchard City’s potential games at Cheney Park won’t affect any local

“Orchard City have indicated they will come up to use the pitch but that will only happen if it is not in use by a Banbridge District team,” he said.

“No Banbridge team will be put off the pitch to accomodate a team from Newry. Rather than lie dormant though, they will use it if it is not already in use and then they will pay a higher premium.”