Pitch wrangle for league sides

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FURIOUS football bosses have demanded action after a season of changing room and pitch problems.

Mick Hutchinson, manager of Newton Arms FC, withheld a portion of his side’s league fees until the very end of the season after problems accessing changing rooms, and having his pitch marked out.

Mr Hutchinson, whose side plays at Cottam Hall in Poulton, said: “Five times this season the changing rooms haven’t been unlocked, and three times we haven’t had the pitch marked out.

Final

“We’ve had to move elsewhere twice and my argument is what are we paying for?

“I paid the outstanding amount before the final but I keep complaining to the league and they tell me to complain to the council.

“But I’m giving the league the money so they should sort it out.”

A complex agreement between Wyre Council, the YMCA and the league means complaints about the ground appear to have been missed.

Peter Collins, secretary of the Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Alliance, said some grounds had fallen into a poor state as the league reduced from around 120 teams in its heyday, to around 60 today.

He added: “It’s difficult to encourage authorities to spend on facilities when there are so many cutbacks.

“You try to complain but it’s like banging your head against a brick wall.

“Our two main pitches are Boundary Park and Common Edge Road but the rest are not so good.”

Mr Collins said league fees from teams included around £35 per game which was given to Wyre Council to make sure pitches were prepared in time for games.

But a spokeswoman for the authority said it hadn’t received a single complaint and the YMCA looked after the changing room facilities at the site.

John MacNicholas, club secretary of team The Bispham Hotel, added: “The situation is disgraceful.

“These teams are paying around £600 in fees – multiply that by 70 teams and that’s a lot of money to ensure changing rooms are open and pitches are up to scratch.”

A spokeswoman for the YMCA said: “We have dealt with the complaint regarding the availability of the changing rooms.

“Unfortunately we had not been made aware of any issues relating to the pitch markings. In these circumstances we would contact the relevant council department immediately to rectify the situation.”