MANY football teams have been left to find alternative venues to play matches following a delay in getting their normal venue ready after drainage works were carried out.
The pitches at Birchall Playing Fields in Leek are currently not ready for the new football season, which began last month, due to a delay in the completion of drainage works at the site.
James Lockett, who lives in Leek and manages an under-sevens football team funded and supported by Leek Town football Club as part of its community programme, is unhappy that teams are still unable to play matches on the playing fields.
He said: “Our football season was due to start in September with our home venue being Birchall playing fields, where we were due to play host to many under sevens teams from around Staffordshire.
“The fixtures were due to be published – with Birchall being our home venue – in late August, only to be told in September that Birchall was not suitable due to ongoing drainage work.
“Now I understand necessary drainage work started to take place at the end of last season, in April, I guess with the intention of ensuring minimal disruption to the sporting teams.
“However, surely someone from the council could have provided us with some communication regarding this work and the fact that it was not going to be ready in time.
“To just bombshell us with this news in September has caused chaos to local sporting teams and fixture lists alike.
“I am aware that countless teams from six years of age right through to the men’s Leek and District Sunday League teams have been affected by this.
“I am also aware that some leagues actually published fixtures including Birchall as a venue, and have had to publish them again.” Mr Lockett further explained that club officials have been left with a “mad scramble” to try and find alternative venues in order to fulfil their fixture commitments.
He added: “This is a ridiculous situation, when just a bit of simple communication over the summer would have at least given us some time to find a solution. Who on the council is responsible for this? “I hear rumblings about the weather being to blame.
“Well call me old fashioned, but I could have predicted a combination of sun and rain in this country.
“If there was any doubts at all that Birchall would not have been ready for use then this should have been communicated at the earliest opportunity.
“All we are left with is rumours.
Rumours that it ‘might’ be ready in November.
“Well I am sorry, that’s not good enough.
“This has affected hundreds of people every week.
“Birchall is a huge community facility in the town and the handling of this has been nothing short of disgraceful.
“I appreciate the drainage work is probably necessary.
“I would have accepted this if this had been communicated to us perhaps in early August to give us a chance to make alternative arrangements.” Councillor Mark Deaville, cabinet member for leisure, sport, parks and countryside at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said yesterday: “We are aiming to have some of the pitches available by the weekend of October 12 and 13.
“We get the site back on Friday this week, October 4, and our contractor, Glendale, then needs time to mark out the pitches and prepare them for play.
“This will be done in phases over the coming weeks across the whole site and we will be bringing pitches back into operation as soon as we can.” He added: “We have been in dialogue with the leagues that use these facilities at all stages during these essential works to ensure they are kept informed of progress and able to plan accordingly.
“I would like to thank them for their understanding and patience during this period as we implement these improvements to the facilities.”