Worthing forced to play first five competitive fixtures away after failing FIFA inspection
Worthing Football Club will play the first five matches of the new season away from home - and could also be forced to play some home games at Bognor Regis.
The club have had issues with their 3G pitch since it was laid in the summer of 2015 and it has now failed two FIFA quality test certification inspections since the end of last season owing to uneven areas - which means the club cannot play on it.
Because of the drainage at Woodside Road, the club says continual flooding has caused movement in the base layer of stone underneath the artificial surface and the pitch has become uneven.
Successful drainage work was carried out on the south east corner of the ground in October and work was attempted on the other three quarters of the pitch in June but did not work, leaving standing water on the pitch when it rained.
Worthing got in touch with The FA and now FIFA are involved to rectify the problem, so the issue is out of the club's hands as the whole pitch needs to be relaid.
Worthing hope a temporary solution can be found for the pitch to pass the FIFA certification for the club to play home games from September and then the surface will be relaid next summer.
If no solution can be found now, the pitch will be relaid and Worthing will need to play home games at Bognor until the issue is rectified, which is likely to be the end of October.
Worthing kick-off the season at Met Police on Saturday but the matches with Leatherhead and Thurrock - due to be Worthing's opening two home games of the season - will now be switched. Leatherhead will host Worthing on Wednesday (7.45pm) and they will then visit Thurrock on Friday, August 25 (7.45pm).
Worthing managing director Calvin Buckland said: "We're thankful to Leatherhead and Thurrock for reversing the fixtures. They were both very amenable and playing home games at Bognor from September is a stand-by option at the moment.
"We tried every possible avenue to get the pitch right for the start of the season.
"After work in June, we still had flooding issues and were without the FIFA test certification. We were advised by The FA and FIFA to make alternative arrangements in case of the worst case scenario, so have made contact with Bognor. We might have to play some home fixtures there if the problem with our pitch is not rectified by then."
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