FOOTBALL clubs have slammed the “disgraceful” state of pitches in Burnley ahead of the new season.
Local teams say pre-season preparations have been hampered by poor playing surfaces, unmarked pitches and uncut grass.
Fears are that pitches across the borough will not be ready for the big kick-off next weekend and many are blaming council cutbacks for the problems.
However, Burnley Council bosses denied there was an issue and promised all football grounds would be ready for the opening fixture of the season.
Paul Gidley, U12 coach at Ighten Leigh Junior Football Club which plays on Sycamore Avenue fields, said: “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it and I have been playing down here for 20 years. It has never been this bad. The grass has been way too long to play on safely and the pitches were not even marked.
“I have spoken to Readstone, Fulledge and Padiham and everyone is in the same boat. Some teams have even been forced to play their friendlies elsewhere. Every other town in Lancashire seems to be up and running and it just seems Burnley has been left behind again.”
Mr Gidley said he made repeated complaints to the council before the grass was finally cut, but is worried by the time the season starts it will be too long to play on again.
He added: “Cutting it every two or three weeks is just not good enough. Football pitches need cutting every week.”
Andy Galloway, U7s coach at Rosegrove Football Club, slammed the state of the pitches at Sycamore Avenue where his team also plays. “They have only just cut it and it is a shocking job.
“Last time they cut it they didn’t even move any of the grass. We had to all come out with rakes and clean up a patch to train on.
“I know there has been cutbacks in funding but this is bad. It’s a joke. If they leave this another two weeks without cutting it, it will be unplayable.”
But Simon Goff, Head of Green Spaces for the council, said: “We are not aware of any complaints from local teams about football pitches around the town. Pitches are currently being prepared for the start of the season, with marking taking place and goal posts being erected.
“They are currently cut fortnightly, which will provide a good playing surface by the time matches begin.”