By Andrew Atkinson Exclusive

The 2021 Crown Green Waterloo Bowls Championship has been cancelled for a second consecutive year, due to the ongoing situation of the Blackpool based stadium needing thousands of pounds worth of refurbishment, added to the COVID-19 situation.

“The 2021 Waterloo bowls Championship is definitely not on,” five times Waterloo champion Gary Ellis exclusively told me.

“It is unlikely that there will be any bowling at the Waterloo at all this year,” added Ellis, after this year’s competition was thrown in doubt, pending a full schedule of maintenance works for the stadium to be signed-off.

The prestigious crown Green Waterloo bowls Championship this year hung on a knife-edge as negotiations continued into the costs of putting a new lease in place and commencing maintenance works on the stadium, being the only crown green bowling stadium in Britain.

The Waterloo event which goes back to 1907 was first won by Jas Rothwell, with a prize pot of £25.

Prior to the confirmation of the cancelled event Ellis said the Waterloo was based on the focus shifts to getting a new 10 year lease in place, getting the stadium maintenance work done, and getting all the work signed-off as acceptable for regulation and insurance purposes. “There was a small chance that things would move quickly – and we would be able to run something at short notice at the end of the season,” said Ellis.

Amidst the uncertainty of this year’s Waterloo being staged the mower that the green used has returned back to the manufacturer.

“The firm who had kindly donated it to us for use understandably needed it back, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not practical to ‘borrow’ mowers from other bowls clubs, transporting them is an issue of course,” reasoned Ellis.

“We are therefore intending to purchase a temporary mower at the cheaper end of the scale, for approximately £1,000, as clearly we need something to make sure the green doesn’t simply overgrow this year,” said Ellis.

“This is really an unavoidable cost that will have to come out of the £75,000 stadium maintenance funds we have raised.

“If and when we have got through the points above – and are definite on continuing – we will need to upgrade it to a better mower, to allow the green to be cut to playing standard,” he said.

“After extensive talks surrounding the maintenance works needed to be made at the stadium and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the situation of COVID-19 this year’s event will not take place, which comes on the back of last year’s cancellation,” said Ellis.

In 2019 a public appeal for donations was launched to help safeguard the 114-year-old South Shore bowls arena amid structural problems which forced the East stand to be demolished.

At the time a new management structure was put in place that liaised with the governing body on risk assessment.

A structural report was carried out at the stadium and the venue was deemed fit for purpose, with the levelling of space needed where the East stand was in situ.

In the longer term a new lease was needed to make Lottery funding possible.

Since 1907 The Waterloo has only missed four years of staging the competition, in 1910 and 1939, due to the war years, and 2020 and 2021.

Following the initial outbreak of coronavirus the committee took its lead from Government and Bowls Scotland advice, including a risk assessment and it was found there were unacceptable risks. To protect members it was closed until further notice.