FOOTBALLERS fighting to save their local training grounds have warned the loss of the venue could be “devastating” for the East End. 

Members of East Park Football Club have been campaigning for the future of Lochend Football Centre after it was earmarked for permanent closure. 

Campaigners are calling on Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life to review their decision on cutting the pitch from the community. 

HeraldScotland:

Graeme Gamble, who is the Easterhouse club’s head coach and treasurer, said: “There has been no public consultation over closing these facilities whatsoever. 

“We’ve remained closed and trying to get football facilities at alternative locations is hard because nobody is taking anyone new in at the moment – they are just sticking to who has been there in the past.”

The club offers training sessions to all ages on a weekly basis. 

Their facility is one out of 70 Glasgow Life venues currently facing an uncertain future. 

HeraldScotland:

Graeme added: “Moving 16 pitches in one area alone is crazy. It’ll have a massive impact on the East End. 

“Football is obviously the main thing for us but there are so many other facilities and venues in the area that are all going too. They’re blaming the closures on Covid, but these venues are the backbones of our community. It just doesn’t make sense.

“It isn’t just Lochend, there is Shettleston Community Centre, Tollcross Community Centre and Cranhill Community Centre, which are all within a four-mile radius of one another.  It’s just a bit of a kick in the teeth.

“The kids keep asking when they will be getting back to their own pitch but we need to keep making excuses. They just want to go back to their own venue.”

HeraldScotland:

In an attempt to preserve their pitches, East Park have launched an online petition to overturn the local authority’s decision. 

Graeme said: “The sad reality is that if we don’t have a football pitch we probably won’t be able to play matches or even train. 

“The kids have been through enough in the past year, let’s not take away their sports facilities from them.

“Hopefully, we can get enough signatures on our petition to try to convince the council to review their decision and consider again.”

HeraldScotland:

A Glasgow Life spokeswoman said: “We have been clear that the £100m funding guarantee Glasgow Life has from Glasgow City Council will be used in its entirety reopening more than 90 facilities across the city. 

“Having lost £38 million in earned income over the past year, and with a near 15% reduction in our operating budget for 2021/22, we are reopening all of the venues and sites which we can within the maximum budget available to us. Without the financial security provided by the Council, fewer facilities would be able to reopen.

"As such, we currently have no plans to reopen any more venues and sites beyond those already announced.

“This also means we are unable to provide open access to outdoor facilities. Our insurance provision requires us to have a staff presence on site, and we are prioritising staff resources across the venues and sites we are reopening. 

“At the same time, we have intentionally focussed on reopening sports facilities with the greatest capacities to ensure we can reach as many people as possible across the city, as we know that supporting the health and wellbeing of our communities will be essential to Glasgow’s post-pandemic recovery. This will also provide Glasgow Life with an opportunity to begin to regrow its income in the short to medium term.

“We have been saying for some time now that Glasgow Life faces the same difficult choices that many other organisations face in the wake of Covid. We know just how valued our services, and the venues which host them, are to the communities they serve, and we understand the concern that any changes may cause. However, without additional resources, we cannot do more than we are doing. If we were to receive more funding then we could reopen more venues.

“And while some venues do not have planned reopening dates at present, that doesn’t mean we are not already exploring alternative operating models. 

“Some examples of this can be seen in our Community Activation Pilots.”

Sign East Bank Football Club's petition HERE.