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Sunday League fixtures postponed after council's turf blunder
THE big kick-off for the Basingstoke and District Sunday League was decimated last weekend as seven of the 10 scheduled games had to be postponed because pitches were unsafe.
Borough council pitches at Brighton Hill Playing Fields and War Memorial Park were deemed unsafe to play on after new turf was laid in the penalty areas days ahead of the opening weekend of games.
Mike Davis, chairman of the Sunday League said: “I just could not believe what I saw. The pitches had been marked out and then the turf was laid on top.
“They were still doing it on Friday and there was no way it was going to be ready by Sunday – surely the council knew this?
“Our clubs pay a lot of money to play on these pitches, and the council had four months to get them ready.
“We had a lot of very angry players on Sunday as they were expecting to play. We had the pitches inspected by a senior referee and the decision was made to postpone the games as all the pitches were unsafe.”
Tim Boschi, head of community services at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said: “We apologise to all the football teams who had their games postponed at the weekend.
“We can fully understand their frustration at the pitches not being ready for the start of the new season, and we are sorry that we let them down.”
He added: “Work started on the pitches at the end of July, later than we had hoped, as part of the summer maintenance programme for pitches that has included extensive work on Basingstoke RFC’s first team pitch, as well as the golf and bowling greens.
“The goalmouths were rotavated, reseeded and watered, but unfortunately, the seed had barely come through.
“With bare goalmouths, very dry weather and stones on the surface, which in itself is a hazard, we felt we should turf these areas on eight pitches in an effort to try to make them playable.
“In hindsight, this work was done far too late and there was never a realistic chance of the turves knitting together to form an acceptable playing surface.
“I can assure everyone that we are liaising with the Basingstoke and District Football League to sort things out so that matches can be played this weekend.”
Work will now go on to bring the pitches back into service, and Boschi said: “For the next two weekends, we plan to remove all the pitches from play. This will allow us to roll, replace turves, water etc so they are ready later this month.
“Other playing fields will be marked out and brought into use to compensate over this period.”
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