Sunderland Sunday League club appalled by state of football pitch

Hylton Road playing fields where Steels Athletic FC play.
Hylton Road playing fields where Steels Athletic FC play.

A Sunderland Sunday league club has labelled their facilities “appalling” and are backing the Football Association’s claims about the state of council-run pitches.

The FA claimed that council-run football pitches were in an “abhorrent” state and the game could die out if things did not change.

John Winter, Secretary of Steels Athletic FC said: “It’s absolutely appalling. The pitch is not well kept, the lines are not done and the goalmouths waterlogged.

“The changing facilities are appalling, they are always filthy-I wouldn’t wash my dog in the showers.”

The club play on Hylton Road playing fields, which has been waterlogged for their last three fixtures leaving Mr Winter unsure when they can next play a home game.

Councillor James Blackburn, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for City Services said: “We believe that the majority of our pitches are in good condition, and we receive feedback from local teams that supports this belief.

“Obviously the wet weather we have experienced in recent months has caused some postponements and difficulties in preparing pitches.

“We are aware that some pitches suffer from overplay. These pitches such as Hylton Road playing fields have open access with players using them at times other than for affiliated league games and this can have an impact on the quality of the playing surface.”

Steels Athletic FC pay £375 to the council each season for the use of the facilities to play in the Premier Division of the Sunderland Sunday League.

Mr Winter added: “I don’t think we get value for money that’s for sure.”

“Obviously everyone knows the financial situation we are in but this situation has gone on for years so you can’t blame the financial situation, even when money was about the pitch was in the same state.”

Councillor Blackburn said: “Despite the economic downturn and massive cuts to revenue budgets we will continue to strive to provide the best football pitches we can.”

Share your experience of council-run football pitches across Sunderland and the North-East in the comments box below or on Twitter at @SRNewsNow.

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