Football Club Unhappy over Doubling of Prescot Pitch Hire Fees
Local football club Rainhill Rocket FC say they are struggling to pay new hire fees at Prescot Soccer and Leisure Centre.
The club, which has an all-age team and 13 junior teams, train on fields in Rainhill in the summer, but in winter they need indoor or astro-turf facilities. They need at least four pitches for each session.
Until recently, they were paying £21 per hour to hire a practice pitch. The now-abandoned discount, half of the normal fee, was offered to all FA Charter clubs as an incentive to invest in training, welfare and community standards.
Having become the first local club to achieve the status, however, Rocket now feel the price hike to the full £42 is a financial barrier to families.
Rocket secretary Kevin Hannah said some children will have to pay £4 to £5 per session.
“Rocket have always tried to maintain the lowest subs and signing on fees to ensure all members of community are included,” Hannah told Prescot Online. “However, this will now mean some parents simply can’t afford to let kids join in training and no doubt withdraw from teams.
“We are one of many local teams and would hope the true worth of all our efforts are recognised by the council and their decision reversed.”
Volunteer Lee Myers added that even charging subs of £2 a week, “we still don’t get enough, and I end up putting in the difference myself.”
He said the best deal Knowsley had offered them was a 10% discount on a block booking of 10 weeks, which would still mean an unaffordable £338 upfront.
The following statement was published to Knowsley Council’s Facebook page in December:
You may have read that the Council is increasing fees for hiring football pitches in the borough.
Unfortunately the increase in pitch fees is one of a number of savings proposals that the Council has had to consider in order to find savings of £34m due to significant Government funding cuts.
In this particular case, the historic discount was offered to all local clubs as an incentive to encourage chartered standard accreditation.
Due to the budget cuts, the council simply cannot subsidise the use of facilities by clubs anymore. Alongside changes to services, the wider savings proposals also include 130 job losses from across all levels in the Council.
Update (13/01/15): Cllr Eddie Connor, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Community and Culture, has responded with the following statement:
Knowsley has a very proud history of nurturing footballing talent which has gone on to play the game at the very highest level. With this in mind, in 2007 the council offered a discount of 50% on synthetic pitch fees for local clubs – the only local authority in the area to do this – as an incentive for them to work towards chartered standard accreditation.
Unfortunately we are facing unprecedented budget cuts imposed on us by central Government and as a council, we need to find £34m of savings over the next two years.
Savings have had to be identified from across all service areas in the council and unfortunately the large discount offered to local clubs is no longer sustainable. The revenue from clubs was lower than the true cost of providing and maintaining the facilities.
Whilst this is regrettable, the harsh reality is we must balance our books and continue to provide essential services such as social services, healthcare and education.
This has not been an easy decision to make and it is one that we have avoided making for as long as we can. The price with effect from 1 January 2015 brings consistency across all synthetic pitch hire fees in the borough and will help secure the future of pitches by reducing the cost to the council. We will continue to review our charges to ensure they remain competitive across the region. There are no changes in fees for grass pitches.