Media Watch - Gateshead look at alternatives

13/02/2013, by Jeff Bowron, Evening Chronicle

Gateshead will look for an alternative venue to stage their remaining Blue Square Bet Premier home games if there is no solution to the ongoing pitch problems at the International Stadium.

The postponement of last night's game against Kidderminster Harriers was the 10th since December, leaving the club with a huge backlog of fixtures.

Inactive in January The Heed have tumbled to 5th bottom and Saturday's rearranged trip to Forest Green Rovers will be a 9th away game in the last ten fixtures.

Extensive remedial work has been carried out at the International Stadium but drainage problems remain and only one Conference home game has been played in the last three months.

It is an unprecedented situation for the regions top non-league club. Two thirds of Gateshead's remaining 19 games are at home and with no light at the end of the tunnel the immediate prospect is to find a temporary home.

There are only a handful of stadiums, however, in the North East that have the necessary A grading required to stage Conference games.

With cash flow almost non-existent and the cost of being unable to stage home games running into thousands of pounds chairman Graham Wood is desperate for a solution.

Wood said: "It is a nightmare situation not of our making which makes it all the more frustrating and we have another home game against Wrexham next Tuesday.

"There has been a lot of remedial work done to the pitch but it has not solved the problem and the games are mounting up.

"We want to play at the International Stadium but the pitch is a massive concern and the financial implications of not being able to play games at home are huge."

While playing elsewhere in the North East will not be ideal the crisis is such that next week's game against Wrexham has to go ahead.

Manager Anth Smith said: "It wouldn't surprise me if we don't play at the International Stadium again this season - the pitch is that bad.

"Playing on a neutral ground wouldn't be ideal and we wouldn't have home advantage, but the playing surface will be better and we've got to turn a negative into a positive."

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