Furious organisers of a non-profit making football organisation say they are being turfed out of their local leisure centre after 17 years.
Leisure Leagues, which runs six-a-side matches from Tudor Grange Leisure Centre for 16s and over, and has around 1,000 players, particularly encourages children from disadvantaged backgrounds and girls to be involved.
Organisers staged a protest this week outside the leisure centre in Solihull after they were told that they must leave the facility when their contract finishes at the end of this month.
Chris Rowntree, spokesman for Leisure Leagues, said the club faced pressure to increase its prices.
“In January we were told, by letter from Simon James, the manager at Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, that they had signed a contract with a new commercial provider to run leagues at the centre in place of us,” Mr Rowntree said.
“At first, they wanted us to engage in a price war with the commercial provider but, as a non-profit making organisation committed to keeping our prices as low as possible for the people of Solihull, we were simply not prepared to do so.
“It is simply outrageous that a community organisation such as ours can use pitches for 17 years, provide competitive low-cost sport to the local community, then simply be kicked off the pitches because somebody else comes along and offers Tudor Grange more money.
“On this basis, every community club, junior club or minority group – indeed, anyone who uses the facilities at Tudor Grange Leisure Centre – could suffer this fate if somebody else comes in and offers more money to use the same pitch.
“This is disgraceful and shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council needs to act now.”
Julian Knight, parliamentary candidate for Solihull, has written to Solihull Council, calling for urgent action.
“The sudden cancellation of Leisure Leagues’ contract is a kick in the teeth for anyone who cares about access to sport for the young and those with disabilities in Solihull,” the Conservative candidate said.
“Leisure Leagues has contributed a great deal to the social life of Solihull for the past 17 years and I call on Parkwood Leisure to urgently reconsider their decision.”
Simon James, manager of Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, which is run by Parkwood Leisure, said: “Following several previously unsuccessful attempts to meet with organisers at Leisure Leagues to discuss the future delivery of football leagues in Solihull, we are now actively engaged with senior management at the organisation and look forward to reaching an expedient and amicable conclusion.”