Football pitches in Sheffield have been saved from the threat of closure, after a new operator was found.
The five-a-side pitches and pavilion at Woodbourn Road in Darnall are currently run by Powerleague, but the firm announced last year that the site was one of 13 around the UK from which it was withdrawing.
Sheffield Council, which owns the facilities, had been searching for a new manager to keep them open after Powerleague pulls out on January 31.
It announced today that Leisure United, which already runs Sheffield’s FA Football Hubs at Graves, Thorncliffe and Westfield, along with the Olympic Legacy Park pitch, would take over as soon as Powerleague departs.
As part of the deal, Leisure United will also provide facilities to people using the adjoining Sheffield Hallam University City Athletics Stadium, who share the changing and refreshment areas with footballers under the existing arrangement.
The council has agreed to spend between £5,000 and £10,000 on essential work to the pavilion and pitches, which has already begun.
The announcement comes after more than 600 people signed an online petition calling on the council and Sheffield Hallam to ensure the site, which is often referred to as PITZ, remained open.
The petition described the pitches as a ‘vital’ resource, which disadvantaged young people travel from across the city to use, keeping them off the streets.
Councillor Mary Lea, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, said: “I’m pleased to confirm that Leisure United will be taking over the management of football facilities in Darnall.
“I know how important the centre is to local people, coming together to socialise and take part in physical activity, so it’s fantastic that services will not be interrupted and that we have protected services for the city’s athletes who also train at the Woodbourn stadium.
“Leisure United is already successfully running several other quality football facilities in Sheffield, so we are confident that people can expect a great service.
“As well as bringing in a new operator, we have committed a small sum of money for essential repairs to the pavilion and pitches, to make sure the pitches remain up to standard and this work will start in advance of the changeover.
“This is great news for our football and athletics communities, and I hope we’ll see more people take advantage of these important local sports facilities.”
David Gallagher, chairman of the Leisure United Trust, said: “Leisure United is delighted to be the new operator and will be committed to providing a first-class football experience for the local community alongside our existing facilities across Sheffield.”
Leisure United will initially run the facility for six months, while longer term options are reviewed, and opening times and prices will not be affected.