Nelson Cricket Club has been caught out by an unknown leak which has hit the Seedhill outfit with a huge water bill and even bigger headache.
Concerned volunteers at the club, which prides itself as being at the heart of the community, must now plug a £6,000 unwanted hole in its finances after a leak was discovered in the old hut of the disused bowling green, next to the cricket field, last year.
The worrying situation first came to the club’s attention last September when it received a bill for £12,000 from water company United Utilities.
Chairman David Heap, who at first thought the bill must have been a mistake, was shocked when the company confirmed that it was correct.
He said: “A local plumbing firm had actually identified the leak the February before, which we repaired.
“It was a total shock when the bill arrived. I estimated the amount of water billed for would have filled an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”
Anxious that the bill could have a seriously detrimental impact on the future running of the club, officials attempted to negotiate with United Utilities.
The club eventually sought the help of the Consumer Council for Water, an independent ombudsman, which resulted in the bill being reduced by half to £6,000.
Mr Heap added: “We are relieved that the bill has been reduced but it is still a huge burden for us, which will impact on what we can do as a club across all sectors.
“We were backed into a corner and were worried our water supply would be cut off. Our clubhouse, which hosts functions and matchday bar, is our lifeblood.
“We have now secured an agreement with United Utilities to pay back the debt over two years. This is still five years worth of money that has literally washed down the drain, but we have no choice.”
The club is now looking at ways to raise extra money to pay off, but admitted it will impact on all areas.
“Financially, we have to look at things differently now. We are currently looking at a professional for the new season and we have the junior teams to take into account as well.”
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, a sponsor of the club, has said he will do all he can to support them.
He said: “This is very worrying news. The club plays an important role in the local community. I will work with them to see what I can do to raise some added funds or sponsorship to cover this unexpected bill.”