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More funding for football pitches after Echo investigation
FOOTBALL players in Southampton are celebrating after a Daily Echo investigation has brought thousands of pounds worth of investment in sports pitches.
The investigation highlighted broken glass in changing rooms, uneven playing surfaces and games being called off with just the slightest tipple of rain.
Now the council’s budget for sports facilities has been increased for the first time in five years by £24,000. It had previously been reduced from £495,000 to £360,000.
The news comes as teams have to face the prospect of playing double-header games, which mean that games are six pointers, because of fixture backlogs after poor weather wiped out weekends worth of football.
According to one football manager the improvement in the standard of pitches can already be seen.
Eugene McManus who manages Bush Hill FC, has seen the pitches at Green Park in Millbrook rolled and spiked for the first time in years.
He said: “I think any exposure to prick the conscience to invest more money in pitches is good and the Echo should be applauded for getting the state of the pitches exposed before.”
Southampton Saturday Football League secretary Rod Sutherland, 56, believes that the investment could stop teams moving away.
He said: “The Echo article has done the power of good to help the improvement of football pitches.
“We all accept that there are budget restrictions but anything that turns back on that and recognise that sport can help keep people fit should be commended.”
Cabinet member for housing and leisure services Cllr Warwick Payne said the extra investment was a result of the Echo investigation and said: “We need to keep the pitches in good condition and want to make sure they remain in a good condition.”
“We pride ourselves on having an extensive range of sports facilities in the city and the Echo publicising an issue like the state of the football pitches is very useful for the council.”
The cash will be spent on maintaining and improving the standard of pitches with spiking and renovation work over the summer and staff training.
The pressure will also be taken off groundstaff by having other members of the Parks team helping them at peak times.