Britain’s worst football team told their pitch is so bad it breaches league rules

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BRITAIN’S worst football team have been dealt a further blow after being told their pitch is so bad that it breaches league rules. 

Fort William FC will now have to travel and play all of their games away after the Scottish Highland Football League (SHFL) decided Claggan Park is in an unplayable condition.

It is expected that the football ground’s will be unable to host a single game this season as a result, with the Lochaber side now set to play all of their fixtures away. 

Fort William's Claggan Park | Scottish News
The ground was deemed unplayable after being determined it was not in a good enough condition.                                   (C) Fort William F.C Facebook

The SHFL ruled the park’s use out after finding the pitch breached a rule requiring playing surfaces to be in good condition with efficient drainage. 

It is suspected that the poor condition of the park may have been influenced by a previous attack on the club’s grounds keeping equipment by vandals. 

The incident, believed to have occurred between May and June this year, wrecked the club’s tractor and sprinkler, leaving the groundsman cutting the grass by hand. 

Despite manager Ashley Hollyer’s side being given the option to opt out of the season, the players decided to endure travelling to continue with the season regardless. 

Fort William FC gained a reputation for being the worst team in Britain after 882 days without securing a single league win. 

In the past 22 years, the club have finished rock bottom of the league a total of 16 times.

The SHFL shared a statement to Facebook last week about their decision, writing: “The Highland League’s League Management Committee met this evening and agreed with Fort William FC that they play all their Highland League and League Cup fixtures away from home for season 2021-22.

“Claggan Park was inspected on Thursday 22nd July and the results of that inspection was reported to the League’s Office Bearers that evening. 

“The Office Bearers formed the view that the verbal and photographic evidence indicated that Fort William FC was in breach of League Rule 7.6.1 and that a meeting with Fort William FC be arranged at the earliest possible moment.

“That meeting took place on Friday 23rd July when the club accepted without reservation that it was in breach of Rule 7.6.1 which places a requirement on clubs to ensure that their pitch is in good condition and provided with an efficient and effective drainage system.

“In coming to its determination, the League Management Committee considered the information provided by the ground inspection and the submission provided by the Club. 

“It also took into account that the Club had not contacted the League to inform it of the state of Claggan Park. 

“Furthermore, historically, there have been a high number of match postponements due to the condition of the park, a matter which has previously been the subject of correspondence between the League and the Club, most recently in March 2020.” 

The post has now collected hundreds of likes and comments from users who opposed the decision. 

Fort William's ruined Claggan Park | Scottish News
The club opted to play all of their home fixtures at their opponents grounds.                           (C) Fort William F.C Facebook

Simon Barrett said: “Shocking decision by the Highland League. Almost looks like you’re trying to finish Fort William off.

Gordon Taylor said: “Seems harsh, could they not play their ‘home’ games in Inverness or somewhere closer to home until such time where Claggan Park is playable? 

“Hopefully they will get the gate receipts from their away home games.”

David Smith said: “Shockingly poor decision.

“Fort William are already under so much pressure, being forced to travel more than any other club in Scotland in a normal season, now they travel twice as much.

“Surely helping the club out would be the better option by providing them with help and assistance rather than kicking them when they are already weak.”

However, Mike Rae said: “I understand the sympathy behind Fort’s plight due to their record and people getting behind the underdog aspect. However, a little perspective should be in order.

“They last played a home game 4th March 2020. So they have had since then to fix the pitch. That’s almost 18 months to have a pitch fit (doesn’t have to be perfect) to host HFL games.

“The fact the pitch is in the conditions it is going by the photos ,and my own previous experience being on the pitch in the last couple of years means massive failings involving the club to fix the issue.”

And Bill McAllister said: “Obviously there’s a problem the league can’t overlook – but shouldn’t Fort be allowed to look at an alternative venue (e.g Inverness) rather than make them Scotland’s most travelled team.

“Their commitment down the years, in the face of adversity, should have been taken into consideration.”

Fort WIlliam FC reinforced their woeful reputation after their miserable 2018-2019 season. 

The team failed to win a single match, and after fielding an ineligible player led to a deduction of nine points, the team finished with a total of minus seven points for the season. 

However during the next season on the 11 of September 2019, the Fort’s luck finally shifted when they recorded their first win in 882 days when beating Clachnacuddin FC one nil.

Fort William’s fate now hangs in the balance more than ever as relegation play offs will be introduced for the first time in the league’s 128-year history.

Birdseye view of Claggan Park | Scottish News
The park’s quality was hindered after vandals attacked the clubs grounds keeping equipment.  (C) Fort William F.C Facebook

A GoFundMe page was set up last week by Colin Wood, vice chairman of Fort William FC in order to raise money to fix the pitch.

He said: “A hardy band of volunteers have been working tirelessly trying to get Claggan Park fit for Football.

“The fact is it needs more than just prepared, It needs taken back to bare earth leveled and replanted.

“The cheapest amount that has been quoted is £50,000, we will obviously be applying for grants but we will get more if we can match it with crowdfunding.”

The fundraising page currently sits at just over £1,000.

Fort William Football Club released a statement addressing the issue on Facebook last week

They said: “The condition of Claggan Park has long been a talking point in the Highland League, work was undertaken to put better drainage in, but the Strathspey call off identified that more work had to be done.

“Claggan is an open park and any remedial work has been hampered in the extreme through vandalism to our tractor, wrecking the sprinkler system etc. 

“The remedial work was unfortunately not going to be finished in time and we found ourselves in the unenviable position of not being able to fulfill our first set of home games.

“The Highland League office bearers and other clubs have been as accommodating as possible, we were offered the option of taking a year out or playing our fixtures away. 

“We obviously asked for more time but the way the fixtures are set out and with the league now under way, the best option available was to play our fixtures away. 

“The challenge that was in front of us has just got a lot harder but we will endure and overcome.

“FWFC will continue on our journey and I invite all fans to come and follow us.”