Swindon junior football team reports being asked to take over pitch maintenance

By Barrie Hudson - 1 March 2023


Football club Croft Junior FC says it has been asked by GLL to take over the maintenance of the football and cricket pitches at Croft Sports Centre.

According to the club, GLL, which runs the centre, has said it will no longer be maintaining the pitches as frequently as at present.

Croft Junior FC, which has been playing on the six pitches at the Old Town site since 1972, currently fields 17 teams ranging from under-sevens to adults, but sees the enjoyment and learning of the young boys and girls at the club as its real focus.

The club says it now has to find funds to obtain ground maintenance equipment including a tractor and a storage unit.

However, GLL insists that no final decision has been made, and that it is not scaling back maintenance at Croft or any of its other sites in the borough.

A football club spokesperson said: "Croft Junior Football Club have been asked by GLL who run Croft Sports Centre if they will take over the maintenance of the grass football and cricket pitches at Croft Sports Centre as GLL [will no longer] be maintaining the pitches themselves with the current scale and frequency. 

"The club has had the pitches audited by the Grounds Management Association (GMA) and all pitches are rated as poor, reducing maintenance activity further is not going to improve the situation.

"The club has said that they will take in this activity as they believe they can greatly improve on the current state of the grass pitches, but this will require changes in how the club is organised to ensure the long term future of both the club and the pitches. 

"This has put an amount of burden on the Junior Football Club as they now have to find funds to procure maintenance equipment such as a tractor, grass cutting machinery and other machinery to improve the pitches to a certain standard, and volunteers to perform the work every week. 

"Croft JFC will also have to secure a storage unit for the machinery and apply for planning permission for it to be located in a quiet secluded area of the Croft Playing Fields."

A GLL spokesperson said: “We have an excellent relationship with Croft Junior FC and have recently had some useful discussions, exploring different ways of partnering that would benefit everyone that uses Croft Leisure Centre’s pitches.  These include working on a joint bid for grant funding and a different operating model.

“No final decision has been made and changes to the way Croft Leisure Centre’s pitches are used and managed will only be introduced if agreed and supported by all parties.

“GLL is not scaling back maintenance at any of the facilities it operates in Swindon."

The football club spokesperson said Croft JFC was very aware that the playing fields at Croft were donated by the Croft Estate for the sports education use of the community, and were keen for this to continue, so dialogue between all parties who use the fields had either started or would start very soon. 

The club spokesperson added: "With green areas constantly being acquired for housing, Croft JFC have taken on the maintenance of the pitches not only to allow the 280-plus children who are registered with the club somewhere to play football, but also to keep the area constantly used by the community so as to avert any threat from housing developers."

Croft JFC has successfully applied to Swindon Borough Council for the centre and pitches to become an Asset of Community Value, and is in the process of registering as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation so as to better structure the club for taking on additional maintenance.


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