Hucknall Sports break silence and say no deal has been done over their home pitches

Hucknall Sports junior football club have broken their silence over controversial plans for football pitches in the town they call home.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 9:40 am
The pitches at the centre of the dispute

And their chairman, Alan Spray, says a deal has not been done on an issue he says is “simply about football for the town’s kids”.

The Dispatch broke news last week of what some were calling an ‘eviction’ of the long-running organisation from the pitches on the Papplewick Green Playing Fields, off Kenbrook Road in the town.

Ashfield District Council which owns the land, took the decision to change the club’s pitch usage as it looked to arrange a short-term management agreement with the locally-based community interest company, Sports Gateway, which is currently based at Rolls-Royce Leisure in Hucknall.

Sports Gateway recently submitted a planning application to build a 3G pitch, classroom and associated storage on the site, the first two elements have now been withdrawn after residents objected on the grounds of noise, congestion and loss of open space.

Sports do not have a formal long-term agreement for the pitches, which already feature car parking and a building containing changing rooms. But the council move sparked a huge outpouring of public outcry in support of Sports.

More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition expressing their objection.

Mr Spray said: “We have seen a number of statements from local residents and Ashfield District Council published on social media platforms and in the local press that suggests that our concerns over our future at Papplewick Green have been addressed and resolved.

"At this stage, this is categorically not the case. There has been no meaningful dialogue between the involved parties and whilst the Ashfield District Council’s statement suggests that the matter is concluded, we do not consider this to be the case.”

Sports have made two requests to the council and there has been no reply as yet.

These are that the Papplewick Green site remains the club’s home and that they are “the sole tenant, not replaced with a private company”.

And secondly that if there is a wish for the council to partner with an organisation to further develop and improve the site, there is a fair and transparent tender process.

Mr Spray added: “At this stage, we would like to put on record our thanks to everyone in the community that has supported us so far in achieving our aim of securing long term football provisions for the children in our area and ask that you continue to do so and hold the appropriate authorities to account.

“For some, this seems to be about politics and I dare say profits. For us, this is simply about football for this town’s kids.”

Theresa Hodgkinson, director for place and communities, said earlier this week: “After discussions with the clubs, the council has found a resolution which means Hucknall Sports have now been offered their original preference.

“As part of the annual application process, the council has now been able to offer to accommodate Hucknall Sports on their preferred site.

“Hucknall Sports have been offered Papplewick Green going forward on Saturdays and Sundays as requested, along with nearby Titchfield Park and the Merlin site.

“We have worked with partners to ensure as many of our facilities are available to as many clubs, organisations and individuals as possible to increase participation in sport, including football, across the district. Active talks will continue with all parties.”