AFC Fylde’s £5,000 deal to switch Trophy tie to Salford

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AFC Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite has explained how his club and Skelmersdale United reached an agreement to pay the £5,000 required to stage their FA Trophy tie at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.

The home of Salford Red Devils RL and Sale Sharks agreed to host tonight’s first-round replay, which was in danger of being postponed for a fourth time on Skem’s rain-soaked pitch.

Haythornthwaite said: “It was critical to get the game on. We knew another postponement would lead to a sequence of events we were keen to avoid.

“If the game had been called off again, we would have been forced by the FA to play the tie on Saturday.

“This would mean the scheduled league trip to Lowestoft Town would be moved to a Tuesday night and the second round of the Trophy (if Fylde won through) would be at Eastbourne next Tuesday. As the players are part-time, it would have caused all kinds of problems trying to get to Eastbourne on Tuesday night.”

To avoid this, the clubs sought a neutral venue to ensure the tie went ahead tonight but Haythornthwaite added: “That proved difficult. Most clubs were reluctant to risk further damage to their pitch. Eventually we found the AJ Bell Stadium but they wanted £5,000 to open the stadium.

“As the prize money for winning this tie is £5,000, I suggested to Skelmersdale chairman Paul Griffiths that the winner should pay for the the stadium rental cost.

“As a gesture of goodwill we also agreed that Skelmersdale would keep all the gate receipts. It’s a win-win situation for both clubs as far as I’m concerned.

“But critically, it set up one of us to represent the North West in the next round and have a real go at Eastbourne on Saturday.

“I would like to pass on my thanks to Paul and all at Skelmersdale, as well as the people at the AJ Bell Stadium for their co-operation and help in this matter. It shows that when clubs are prepared to work together there is always a solution if you look for one.”