BUDLEIGH Salterton are looking to hold talks with their landlords at Ottermouth over a possible move to a new ground., writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

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While every club in Devon has suffered during the extended wet spell this summer, Budleigh have suffered more than anyone by having 11 game called off at 1st and 2nd XI level so far.

Budleigh’s low-lying ground just a stone’s throw from the sea front was flooded up to the depth of their pavilion guttering last Saturday afternoon - give or take an inch or two a depth of 15 feet.

While some items of furniture and club memorabilia were moved to the loft in time to save them, the interior of the pavilion has been badly damaged.

Thousands of pounds worth of kitchen equipment will need to be thrown out - as will all the fixtures, fittings and pipe work, never mind the stock, behind the bar.

Everything up to ceiling level in the bar, kitchen, dressing rooms, toilets and showers has been coated in a slimy film of silt which will have to be cleaned off.

The £100,000 pavilion, opened in 2006 when Devon played Holland in a commemorative game, has been flooded out before. The worst occasion in the past was in 2008.

Chairman Neil Rice said once the floodwater recedes the pavilion will be dried out, rewired and decorated for future use.

Long term though Rice sees Budleigh’s future somewhere else, hence the reason for talking to landlords Clinton Devon Estates.

‘We have around 25 years left on our lease at Ottermouth and what we would like is to talk to Clinton Devon about a swap,’ said Rice.

‘It isn’t just the league cricket which is being affected, but everything we do at Budleigh.

‘Our youth sides cannot play, we have a thriving evening pub league which has come to a standstill the touring sides we entertain in the week can’t play us either.

‘There is a revenue aspect to all this, but first and foremost we are a cricket club and want to play some cricket.

‘Traditionally, we have had flooding problems at the ground, but in recent years they seem to have got worse.

‘We cannot get insurance cover for flooding any longer and are looking at a bill for at least £30,000 for the damage done this time.

‘The time has come for us to look for somewhere in or around Budleigh Salterton where we can site a pitch which won’t flood.

‘Clinton Estates have always been very good towards us and from what I gather they have ideas about alternative uses for our ground.

‘We are situated in a salt marsh and there has been talk before about turning the area into a nature reserve.

‘It would be a shame to leave as we have a nice ground and a superb pavilion, but we cannot go on like this.’

Ottermouth has been Budleigh’s home since the 1930s, but previously the club played on land at Knowle on the way into the town and also on a ground in Cricketfield Road.

Last Saturday’s game against North Devon was the latest victim of the weather, however from this Saturday Budleigh hope to be playing games on the University of Exeter pitches at Topsham.

‘I would like to thanks Jim Wood and Matt Theedom from the Devon Cricket Board for all their help coming to an arrangement with the university - everyone has been fantastic,’ said Rice.

Budleigh have lost so many matches to bad weather they are one off the bottom of the Premier Division table. If they stay there for the rest of the season they will be relegated.

Rice contacted Devon League managers earlier this week asking if it would be possible to rearrange some of the cancelled games, or extend the season into September to play catch-up.

The league said ‘no’ and while Rice wasn’t surprised he was disappointed.

‘We could be relegated on the basis of playing less than two-thirds of our games and I don’t see how that can be representative of our season,’ said Rice.

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