Whistle blown on kids’ pitch booking

The pitch at Ravenscraig has been booked out long-term by Airdrie FC.
The pitch at Ravenscraig has been booked out long-term by Airdrie FC.

North Lanarkshire Leisure has come under fire for ’selling out’ youth football classes in favour of a professional team.

Parents who take their children to classes at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility are said to be furious that the youngsters have been moved from the 3G artificial pitch to another sports hall at the centre to accommodate Airdrie FC’s training.

NL Leisure runs a popular children’s football coaching programme at facilities throughout the area.

However, parents who signed up for the blocks at Ravenscraig say they pay more to use the artificial pitch there and are now looking for refunds after the move.

One disgruntled parent told the Times: “I can’t believe a kids’ booking has been kicked out for a professional football team.

“A lot of parents are really upset and won’t be bringing their kids back.

“We pay extra money to use Ravenscraig Astroturf pitch.

“They have quite literally moved the goal posts.”

NL Leisure said a review was recently carried out ‘with the intention to smooth out demand by increasing off peak usage’.

A spokesman for the body continued: “Ravenscraig was currently the only venue that our soccer schools classes were held on a 3G surface, all other soccer schools throughout NL Leisure are held within sports halls and deliver the same content to over 700 children each week.

“This move allows a level of continuity throughout all our kids’ football programmes.

“The change has been necessary due to financial pressures.

“To continue to make sport and leisure as accessible as possible, we must increase income though maximising off peak occupancy.”