Campaigners fighting to save popular Burnley playing fields from housing developers have been boosted by a national campaign.
Protesters battling to preserve the former Habergham School fields, which could be sold off for housing, were joined by leaders from the Save Grass Roots Football campaign.
The demonstration was part of a family fun day which saw hundreds of youngsters enjoying a football tournament with 30 junior teams from across East Lancashire.
Organisers, who have collected more than 2,000 signatures to stop the sell-off by Lancashire County Council, said it proved how vital the playing fields were to youngsters in the area.
Zoe Pennington, of Rosegrove FC, said: “It has been a great day today.
“We have had more than 350 children here from 30 different teams from Lancashire.
“We have had a fun day with bouncy castles and games – it has been a great day for families.
“It has helped make people aware of how important these playing fields are and how important they are to the community.”
Kenny Saunders, founder of Save Grass Roots Football, travelled from Liverpool to throw his weight behind the campaign.
He said: “I saw it on Twitter what was happening to the kids’ football pitches here so I came with my campaign to save grass roots football.
“If these are taken from the kids here they will never get their pitches back and the kids will be left on the streets.”
Mr Saunders is looking to collect 100,000 signatures in an e-petition to force a Parliamentary debate to get the Premier League to pump millions of pounds into boosting the grass roots game.
He added: “If we don’t get funding from the Premier League you can’t have pitches, toilets and changing rooms and if the council do not have a budget they will sell the land off and the kids will have nowhere to play. It will destroy communities.”
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, who was joined at the event by fellow councillors Neil Mottershead and Charlie Briggs, said: “It will be horrendous if the county council allows this to happen.
“The county council are desperate to get rid of the site. How can Marcus Johnstone even contemplate selling this land off for housing – it has been here for years where children keep fit and healthy and people walk in a green area in the middle of an urban setting.”
Mr Birtwistle has written to County. Coun. Johnstone urging him to save the fields.