Kirklees pitch problems

Sands Lane playing fields, Dewsbury. (d314a406)
Sands Lane playing fields, Dewsbury. (d314a406)

Football pitches in north Kirklees have been heavily criticised after all but one of 44 matches in a Sunday league were cancelled last weekend.

Clubs in north Kirklees now fear fixture pile-ups towards the end of the season as waterlogged council pitches continue to be a nuisance.

Clive Cheney, secretary of the Heavy Woollen Sunday League said waterlogged council-owned pitches meant only one of the league’s matches was completed during the weekend.

He added: “Some clubs will have to play a lot of night matches between now and the end of the season to make up for cancellations.

“I would like to see Kirklees do more, but in these times of council cuts, I can’t see investing in grassroots football to be one of their priorities.”

Pete Ackerley, the FA’s senior national game development manager told BBC Radio 5’s Victoria Derbyshire show this week that the state of council-owned pitches was “abhorrent”.

He also said local authorities had decisions to make over whether to build more artificial pitches to accommodate bad weather.

But Mick Binks, club secretary of Cleckheaton and Gomersal FC, believes more needs to be spent on ground maintenance.

He said: “We have age groups from under-9s to under-16s who have not played a match in nearly a month.

“I have been involved with this club for more than 20 years and, though the council cut the grass and line the pitches, I have never seen them spend anything on maintaining the ground.

“I understand the council are under a lot of pressure to save money but we are now paying the price – a lot of pitches have worn away.”

A spokeswoman for Kirklees Council insisted its pitches were fit for purpose.

She said: “Most pitches are in reasonable condition and if clubs are careful they will last the season out.

“There are currently no plans to build any more artificial pitches but we have recently opened the brand new 3G facility at Leeds Road playing Fields in Huddersfield and this is proving to be hugely popular with some clubs playing competitive matches on the full size pitch.

“The Football Foundation are keen to develop more facilities of the kind but at a cost of around £600,000 it is unlikely that traditional grass pitches will ever become totally redundant.”