Five peninsula clubs criticise council


By Violet Brown


THE five football clubs in the Ards peninsula have united to strongly criticise what they believe is a lack of maintenance of their pitches by Ards and North Down Council.

The football officials believe the facilities at Londonderry Park in Newtownards are ‘immaculate’, but in contrast argue their pitches are poorly maintained.

They say closed season maintenance of their grounds should have started at the end of the season in May, to give the pitches a chance to rest before the start of the new season in August, but so far no work has taken place.

They say this replicates the situation over the past few seasons when maintenance hasn’t been carried out in time for the start of the season leaving peninsula clubs have to pay on substandard pitches.

Representatives of Rosemount FC, Greyabbey, Abbey Villa, Millisle, Portavogie Rangers FC, Portavogie Youth FC and Portaferry Rovers FC highlighted their concerns during a meeting with peninsula representatives alderman Robert Adair and councillor Joe Boyle.

The chairman of Rosemount FC, Trevor McKay, described the maintenance of the pitch in Greyabbey as ‘very poor’ and not up to standard.

“It is not regularly cut or marked and when it is marked the guys who do it have to cut lines out first because the grass is so long,” he said.

“When you see the state of our pitch compared to Londonderry Park it is like we are sucking the hind tit,” Mr McKay continued. “The treatment we get is an absolute disgrace”.

Mr Adair said he was ‘very disappointed’ with the council’s maintenance programme at the sporting facilities across the peninsula which, he added, had been an ongoing problem for the past two years.

“During the rates setting process this year I was assured the budget for the programme had been increased, resources were in place and work getting the pitches ready for next season would start in May”, he said. “To date, sand has been delivered but no maintenance has taken place”.

The peninsula’s football clubs, Mr Adair continued, were going to be left in the same position as they have been for the past two years as there was limited opportunity to get the pitches made playable for the new season.

“My concern is if the work doesn’t start immediately the clubs will not be able to use their own pitches to play matches,” he underlined. 

“I’m fed up that time after time the maintenance isn’t what it should be,” Mr Adair continued. It was, he added, a serious issue for all five clubs in the peninsula and needs to be resolved. “”We are not going to tolerate second class maintenance of pitches on the Ards peninsula,” Mr Adair added. “The promises that have been made have to be honoured”.

Mr Boyle said all five of the peninsula’s football clubsfelt they were not getting the level of service, maintenance and value for money they deserved from the council.

“As well as raising concerns on behalf of the football clubs, I asked if the Ards peninsula was receiving a maintenance programme similar to that of facilities in other areas across the borough,” he said.

“There is only a short window of opportunity for the implementation of expected maintenance programmes and this has to be addressed”.

Concluding, Mr Boyle highlighted: “The council should now be aware of the collective feelings of peninsula clubs and I look forward to positive outcomes moving forward”.

A spokesman for the council said the local authority valued the hard work and dedication of all sports clubs throughout the borough.

“The council strives to ensure a uniformed standard of maintenance is provided regardless of location,” he said. 

“The council carries out a comprehensive annual drainage programme on all pitches. This is complemented by regular maintenance to playing surfaces throughout the season”.