A REFEREE says the future of English football could be tarnished if pitches are not improved - and hundreds of people have signed his petition.

Rob Carron, from Newhaven, says the football pitches across Sussex have not improved since he started refereeing 25 years ago.

The 53-year-old said the condition of pitches is becoming dangerous for players and is calling on Brighton and Hove City Council to take action immediately.

Brighton and Hove City Council has apologised for the state of the pitches and said repairs would be carried out by the end of the season.

The Argus: East Brighton Park East Brighton Park

Rob said: “We’ve had to remove rusting pieces of metal hanging off goal posts and there are hundreds of layers of electrical tape on the posts as there’s nowhere to hang the nets.

“Players of all ages are turning up to pitches they cannot play football on, or they risk injury.”

Rob, an electrician by trade, said pitches have declined in recent years to the point there is a limited amount left in the region.

“We expect to see some replenishment over the summer period. But they’ve been the same for the last two seasons and left to decline,” he said.

“It’d only be fair for the quantity of investment the players are putting in to see the council look after them.”

The Argus: Victoria Park Victoria Park

Rob believes that without investment into grassroots football, the future stars of the sport may suffer.

“Children play on these pitches, but there aren’t sufficient surfaces for them to be able to learn on,” he said.

“We’ve had a fantastic football season with the Euros and the like, but if grassroots level stops then in 15, 20 years’ time there’s nobody following it through.

“We need the facilities to be better for them and the resurgence of adult football teams, especially on Sunday’s.”

The Argus: East Brighton Park East Brighton Park

The part-time referee said council-run pitches in areas like East Brighton Park are in a bad way.

“They need to close it and declare it unplayable,” he said. “Or at least until they re-turf the entire goalmouth.”

Rob has set up a petition to improve the quality of grassroots football pitches around the Brighton and Adur area.

It currently has over 450 signatures.

A council spokesman said additional funds and resources will be distributed into the city’s sports facilities, “building on the success we’ve had with rugby, cricket and tennis”.

“We apologise for the poor condition of some of the pitches in the city,” he said.

The Argus: Victoria Park Victoria Park

“We will repair pitches by the end of this season and remove the goal posts for the closed season which will help improve the quality of the pitches for the following season.

“Looking to next year’s Women’s Euros in the city we will lobby for extra funding to improve our football facilities."