Football clubs in Exeter look set to take over the running of five football pitches threatened with closure.
Clubs and league representatives met with the city council today to look at ways of maintaining the five pitches at Bromhams Farm.
The pitches were earmarked for closure earlier this month to save money. The city council needs to save £2.4 million this coming financial year and £5 million over the next four years.
Cllr Rob Hannaford, lead councillor for Environment and Leisure, said that the meeting had been very constructive: “Some of the clubs have offered to take over the sole running of the pitches and changing rooms and others as a part responsibility. We are confident that with these arrangements we can keep the pitches running and save the money that was originally identified.
“There has never been a threat to football in Exeter. We have said all along that there are enough pitches in Exeter to fulfill all the fixtures even if Bromhams Farm closed. Many pitches often stand idle because clubs block-book them.
“That said, I’m happy that we can now move forward to the satisfaction of the leagues the clubs and the Council. We understand how important sport is in the communities.”
Cllr Hannaford accepted that the proposals to be agreed would herald a new relationship between the council and the users of the pitches, where the days of ‘one size fits’ all would be replaced with a mixed economy of provision better suited to individual club requirements. The leagues and the clubs saw it is an opportunity to move forward in a positive partnership with the council to deliver better facilities that they had a say in managing.
Further work now needs to be done to fine tune the proposals but both clubs and the council accept that with the flexibility shown and level of communication over the last few weeks they were confident agreement could be reached.
(from a press release)