BY SAM SMITH
Croydon Council is hoping to extend its pitch maintenance programme for grassroots football teams beyond April 11 to allow fixtures to be completed, the South London Press has learned.
Clubs in the borough were facing having to fund maintenance of council-owned pitches for two months after the Football Association extended the grassroots football season until the end of June.
Some were scraping for funds to pay for private contractors to help with cutting grass and painting pitches. Others were facing the prospect of not being able to play at all.
The council does not maintain pitches beyond April due to the season usually finishing in May. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions meant that the 2020-21 campaign has been suspended since October and will not resume until at least March 29.
Three days ago, an online petition was launched urging for the policy to be changed.
A council spokesperson told the South London Press: “Because Covid has delayed the local football season beyond its usual finish in April, the Football Association has said clubs can finish their remaining fixtures, when restrictions are lifted, up until the end of June.
“The council is finalising plans on how to extend our football pitch maintenance programme for Croydon teams, while still allowing other sports like cricket to start their season as planned. We will be in touch with clubs with an update as soon as we can.”
The petition had nearly 300 signatures. A section read: “We have all just lived through an extraordinary past 12 months where children have had their lives disrupted and denied the opportunity to play organised weekend sport for all bar a few weeks in the early autumn.
“Nothing has been ‘normal’ and now that lockdown is about to be lifted, we need local councils, politicians and governing bodies to recognise that sticking to ‘normal’ rules and procedures is not enough.
“We need such people and organisations to take decisive action and to step outside of what’s ‘normal’ so that we can all begin to help the children to make up for the many months of compulsory inactivity.”
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