The Board of City Fans United would firstly like to thank all Chester FC supporters for their ongoing patience with the current water damage issues at the Swansway Chester Stadium.
As fans ourselves, we fully understand the frustrations being felt at present by all supporters who have seen the postponement of three matches.We would like to reiterate that the club are doing everything it possibly can to return the Stadium to a normal functioning position.
Unfortunately there is no quick solution to water damage, especially when there is severe electrical damage too, some of which has caused key systems to be damaged beyond repair.
From the moment we were made aware (Monday 13th August) of the water damage sustained on the evening of Sunday 12th August, we were in contact with the key stakeholders to secure the drainage system from the roofing on the East stand to prevent damage which may have been caused by any further rainfall that the which was completed immediately.
Following this, an electrician was commissioned to assess how far the water had travelled and to what extent the electrics had been affected. Following this our insurers were immediately contacted with a local assessor coming out to view the damage. As advised through local media this damage was caused through the pitched roof draining rain water into a drainage system on the flat roof with a limited volume capacity.
This assessment then led to an immediate request for industrial driers to be brought in to help dry the water ingress in the Control Room, PA room, the media room behind the press bench, and carpeted areas around all of those rooms and stairs at the top of the East Stand. At this point we were in contact with the companies that installed the PA system and the CCTV previously along with other providers to arrange a visit to view the damage. These assessments have now been completed, alongside quotes from other providers to ensure a timely and appropriate completion of the task.
In addition to this damage IT infrastructure had also been harmed given that the electrical distribution board and communications terminals were located beneath where water had entered the building. On this basis the Club made the decision to close the entirety of the East Stand to protect the health and safety of employees, volunteers and spectators until such a time that it was deemed safe to enter. This clearance was finally received on 21st August 2018 which deemed that the ground floor was fit to restore power and reopen.
Given the damage and loss of power to the PA system and CCTV, this left us with no valid safety certificate given these two components are essential to staging a football match. The option of staging a match without this certificate was not one that was available as the Club requires a safety certificate to open any area of the stadium.
Since the damage we had almost daily visits from different companies specialising in PA systems and also the CCTV to ascertain the damage to both and to quote and advise on replacement systems both in terms of timescales of completion, cost and suitability given the range of options available within this field. These quotes are now with the insurance assessors who will commission the work based on the quotes provided taking into account timescales, quality and cost.
The National League were consulted at all times during this process and as such visited the ground to see the damage for themselves and were satisfied with the actions taken. Following this visit, the National League announced the postponement of Saturday’s fixture.
On Tuesday 21st August a follow up assessment was conducted by the insurance assessor visited the stadium and viewed the damage, and fed back a report to the insurer to confirm that indeed the PA and CCTV systems had been condemned as unfit for repair and would require full replacement. This itself has brought about separate challenges of co-dependant systems (i.e. Cameras and the digital CCTV system) which – although not directly impacted upon by the flooding – would require assessment of their compatibility.
As present, this is the stage we are at. We reluctantly accepted that the work required to replace the key components to the safety certificate would not be completed by the weekend given the timescales quoted by suppliers. Therefore the League, who had again been fully kept up with the situation, made the announcement that the Bank Holiday fixture against Hereford would be postponed.
There were discussions held regarding switching the fixture to Hereford’s ground or even an alternative venue, but this was deemed unsuitable based on a number of factors, including policing and ticketing arrangements amongst other matchday arrangements.
The board have dealt with – and are continuing to deal with – this situation on a daily basis. Now that the full insurance assessment has taken place, we are awaiting a full authorisation to proceed with the work to replace the damaged items as well as cosmetic repairs required following damage to flooring and walls.
As a club we do continue to explore all options to ensure the earliest possible return to being able to host games. This has included discussions with suppliers about any temporary arrangements whilst a substantive replacement system is put in place. Unfortunately, due to a range of issues beyond the clubs control it is not possible to put in place temporary measures in time for the Hereford game.
At present the Club remain hopeful for the next home game on Saturday 8th September to take place, as long as all work has been completed and tested, and as such the reintroduction of our safety certificate.
We will continue to update our members and supporters on the progress being made.
Again, we thank you as a board for your patience and understanding in this situation, which is certainly one of the most challenging the club has ever faced.
We are also conscious that September could potentially see a lot of home matches and are working with the Fan Engagement Working Group to look at initiatives for some of these games to help fans attend as many as possible, as we look to recover from lost revenue from the postponements suffered.
We ask each and every member and supporter reading this, to please answer our plea for help in attending as many games as you can, which will in turn provide a great atmosphere inside the ground, and also help the players at the same time.
The Board of City Fans United.