Tendring: District council pitch fee hike forces football clubs to close

A HIKE in pitch fees will force football teams to fold because many young players will not be able to afford to play, a club chairman has warned.

More than 350 people have now signed up to a facebook campaign urging Tendring District Council not to put up the amount it charges clubs to use its pitches.

Sporting Rebels FC, who play in Rush Green, Clacton, say their future has been put in doubt because of the spiralling costs.

Club chairman Glenn Clark said: “As it stands the club will fold at the end of the season because we’re not going to be able to afford to carry on.

“At the moment we’re paying �39 a week for use of the pitch and the changing rooms and that’s going to shoot up to �70 a week.

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“On top of that you’re paying referee fees of �30, so that’s going to be �100 a week for a home game which we’re not going to be able to sustain.”

The men’s team, which plays in Colchester and North Essex Division Two, has more than 25 players on its books aged 16 and over.

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Players are currently charged about �5 a match, but Mr Clark says that this will have to be raised to about �12 if the club is to have any chance of staying afloat.

“We’ve got a lot of young lads on the team, many who are at college or don’t have jobs and they won’t be able to afford to play,” he said. “It would put at least half of our players off.

“I can’t afford to keep subsidising a club which is losing money and in this financial climate it’s tough to get sponsorship.

“I’ve spoken to several other teams and they’re all in the same position. The only pitches around here are council pitches, so we don’t have much choice.”

The council runs several pitches in the Clacton area including three in Rush Green, four in West Road, two in Eastcliffe and two in Knox Road.

Cllr Stephen Mayzes, who is responsible for leisure on Tendring District Council, said that the average weekly increase for a football pitch was from �40 to �60.

“This is something that we don’t want to do, but unfortunately we have to find savings of about �4.4 million and we have to be looking at our discretionary and luxury activities,” he said.

“Why should the council be propping up clubs where the users have full-time jobs? And where there are teams for young people who can’t afford to pay then there’s specific funding out there for these types of clubs.

“We have an officer at the council who is working with clubs to help them apply for the funding which is out there.

“It might be the case that some clubs have to amalgamate to save money.”

Tendring District Council estimates that it will raise about �15,000 from increasing fees and charges for sports clubs.

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