A JUNIOR football club says they are “fighting tooth and nail” to keep running despite the uncertainty of the future of their home.

Radcliffe Borough Juniors FC is situated at the heart of Close Park — the location of the first phase of a major flood defence scheme to protect 870 properties.

Under plans that have been submitted to Bury Council by the Environment Agency (EA), a 3m-high earth embankment could be built right outside the club’s main building in Close Park.

Carol Nicholson, welfare officer, said: “We are fighting tooth and nail to try and keep the club going.

“We were hit by vandals last week and the flood defence plans for Close Park are directly impacting on us. The EA is planning to build an 8ft mound between us and our pitches.

“When you are trying to fight something like this, we need all the help we can get to ensure the best outcome possible.

“We are trying to do our best but feel like we are up against it.

“There must be people out there who are able to help us.”

If given the green light, a series of sheet piled walls and embankments will be installed in Close Park and Dumers Lane.

Subject to approval, construction for Phase 1a will begin in early summer 2019.

Under existing plans, a sheet pile wall, between 1m and 3m high at different sections, could be built between the River Irwell and Dumers Lane.

A 2m flood embankment is also proposed at the south of Morris Street.

The second instalment of the work could see a 3m flood wall built at the rear of properties in Parkside Close, and a 3m-high earth embankment on the far side of the park.

This embankment would integrate a footpath and landscaping “to soften the overall appearance”. The football pitches would act as a floodplain.

Mrs Nicholson said: “In the first plans we saw, the EA were going to rebuild the clubhouse for us at top of the mound, with a seating area outside. This would have been perfect for us.

“But now they are not doing that. Instead, they will leave our club in a position where it will not get any natural light.

“They are planning to build a huge mound around the clubhouse.

“You cannot have people carrying massive football nets up and over a 3m mound.

“They are also reducing the amount of grass we have for pitches.

“We are being asked to use other pitches that are not fit for purpose.

“There is just not enough land for them to build these defences at the same time as giving us the equivalent amount of provision that we have now.”

“We understand that the houses need protecting — that is more important than football. But they can’t just build at the expense of what is already there. It is heartbreaking.”

Radcliffe Borough Juniors FC said they have been asked to use Radcliffe Hall C of E Methodist Primary School’s pitches but say these are too small for the children who need to use them.

Mrs Nicholson said: “We have more than 300 children engaging in sport through our club. Hopefully, we are reducing the likelihood of them roaming the streets. Sport has been shown to keep young people on the straight and narrow.

“This goes way beyond football.”

Christian Wilcox, Environment Agency area flood risk manager, said: “We have been working with community groups, businesses, sports clubs and others to try and get a solution that is acceptable to everyone. We have had several meetings with them, including on site, in order to try and address their issues.

“The EA would have loved to provide a new pavilion as part of the scheme, however estimated costs have risen due to unforeseen complications.

“It is a possibility that the EA could partially fund the new pavilion as part of the scheme if a contribution could be found by the football club. We have been looking at several options for alternative pitches for use during construction.”

however, no definite locations have yet been agreed on. If necessary we are prepared to spend up to £50k on temporary facilities for use by the club. The construction phase will impact the pitches for approximately 4-5 months. There will be no loss of pitches once the scheme is completed and as we will be bringing a currently unplayable area back into use there will be a small net gain in playing area.

“A planning application has been submitted to Bury Council for the flood defences and we have been working to address any objections that have been submitted. No objections have yet been submitted by the football club or by Sport England.”