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Storm Ciara: Wisbech Town match postponed over wrecked stand

Storm Ciara: Wisbech Town match postponed over wrecked stand

Image copyright WISBECH TOWN FC
Image caption The stand is now being dismantled ahead of further storms forecast for Saturday

Structural engineers have begun dismantling a football club stand after it was destroyed during Storm Ciara.

Strong winds on Sunday left the North Stand at non-league Wisbech Town FC in Cambridgeshire in a mass of buckled and mangled metal.

Saturday's home tie against Yorkshire club Frickley Athletic has been called off on the advice of safety inspectors.

Club secretary Spenny Larham said: "It was a case of the wrong wind, in the wrong direction at the wrong time."

The £13,000 cantilevered stand at the Fenland Stadium - on the Cambridgeshire-Norfolk border - was built in 2010 and included 54 seats.

Tethered goalposts were also damaged in the storms.

Mr Larham said discussions with insurers were ongoing but the money may not cover the cost of a new, modern stand.

"The safety of supporters is paramount," he said.

"We were hoping to get a game on Saturday because a team are travelling down from Yorkshire, but we had to make sure it was safe to do so.

"Elderly supporters and wheelchair users need shelter. It's a bit al fresco at the moment."

Image caption The stand at the Fenland Stadium was destroyed in Storm Ciara on Sunday
Image copyright Wisbech Town Football Club
Image caption The terraced enclosure as it looked before the storm

The 100-year-old club, which plays in the eighth tier of English football in Northern Premier League Division One South East, has an average attendance of 250 supporters.

An online fundraising page, set up by fan Steve Campion, has raised more than £1,200 of a £10,000 target in two days.

"When you lose a stand completely it's a disaster," the page reads. "Hopefully all fans around the world might dip into their pockets for the restoration of the stand that Storm Ciara has destroyed."

Image copyright Wisbech Town FC
Image caption The stand is being dismantled but the ground will not be ready by Saturday, the club said

The chief executive of Sport England, Tim Hollingsworth, tweeted his support for smaller club grounds affected by storm damage.

"Not first on list I am sure when it comes to repairing damage," he wrote about the Wisbech stand, "but we want to ensure we can help."

Mr Larham said the strength of a metal fence behind the stand prevented it completely collapsing into another football pitch.

"Loss adjusters and inspectors are very busy at the moment and I know that a football stand will be well down the pecking order compared to flooding and downed trees," he added.

"We don't want to take any risks where the safety of supporters or players is concerned."