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Brighton and Hove park football under threat
Grassroots football in Brighton and Hove could face extinction after a 43% increase to the cost of using park facilities.
Brighton and Hove City Council are removing subsidies for the use of pavilions, meaning they will become the highest charging local authority in Sussex.
Teams will have to pay an extra £23 per match for use of changing rooms, which clubs say will threaten the future of Sussex leagues as they struggle to cover the costs.
Brighton and Hove clubs are currently being charged £57 every home match for the use of facilities (£49.25 for pitches and £7.75 for pavilions) but as of April 1 the fees will rise to £80.45 (£50.45 for pitches and £30 for pavilions).
They will be able to pay the charges separately, giving them the option of paying for the use of the pitch but not the pavilion, which would save them £30.
However, while 97% of junior leagues and teams don’t currently book pavilions, most adult footballers would rather have the changing rooms available to them.
We fear for the future of adult football in Brighton and Hove, and we feel that the council couldn’t care lessDavid Jackson, the Brighton, Hove and District Football League secretary
Hang up their boots
Kevin Tharme, the county development manager at Sussex FA, is concerned that the higher prices will cause many of the players to hang up their boots.
He said: “It could have a detrimental effect on adult football. It is a sad state of affairs that people are considering playing football without changing facilities.”
Players and managers have also expressed their anger, with many sending emails to other clubs to raise awareness of the fee rises, and some writing to the council urging them to reconsider.
The council said the decision to remove subsidies was tough but necessary at a time where the need to make savings is greater than ever.
Pete West, cabinet member for environment and sustainability, said: “The council is facing unprecedented Government cuts, so we have had to review all our subsidies – including those for sports facilities.
"The cost of hiring changing facilities – to pay for cleaning, maintenance and staff for opening and closing up – is rising from less than £10 a game to £30 per game.
“This better reflects the cost of running these facilities for the teams that use them. It is a little surprising that people think £30 is unreasonable.
“Although we would prefer not to have to increase these charges, Government-imposed cuts and now locally-imposed cuts from the Labour and Conservative councillors’ tax freeze mean we have to make difficult decisions about how best to protect the most vulnerable people in the city.”
David Jackson, the Brighton, Hove and District Football League secretary is frustrated by the council’s unwillingness to support local sport.
He said: “This is one of our gripes. If the money went to improving facilities, you could see the benefits, but there is no implication that they’ll do that.
"We fear for the future of adult football in Brighton and Hove, and we feel that the council couldn’t care less.”
The new fees take a club’s yearly expenditure for pitches and pavilions to £1,126: the highest charging local authority in Sussex.
Mid Sussex is second highest charging £1,036, with Hastings offering the cheapest facilities at £445. Arun, run by Inspire Leisure, £49.50 for two hours senior pitch and changing rooms. No increase for this year.
Eastbourne 2011/12 season £520 for 14 games or £52 per game. Worthing 2012/13 season £53.90 (plus VAT) pitch, changing room and showers. Adur 2012/13 14 games £623 football pitch, changing room and showers. Lewes District Council pitches hired out per game at £65.49 with a 20% discount offered when ten or more sessions are booked.
Anticipated small increase of between 3% and 3.5% when rates are reviewed shortly.