Grassroots football clubs speak out after arson at Portsmouth sports pavilion

Pavilion at King George V Playing Fields, Cosham. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Pavilion at King George V Playing Fields, Cosham. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
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MORE must be done to bring an arson-hit sports pavilion back into use, members of a football club have said.

The building at King George V Playing Fields was torched by two teenagers, who admitted the blaze at Portsmouth Youth Court.

READ MORE: Teenager sentenced for arson attack at Portsmouth sports pavilion

Lewis Charlton, secretary of Horndean United FC, said while Portsmouth City Council was not to blame, costs have gone up despite not being able to use all of the pavilion, which has showers and changing rooms.

He said: ‘We do as clubs feel as though a repair plan should have been in place long before now and communicated to the (people who hire the pitches).

‘The cost of pitches and amount of pitches hired on a weekly basis has climbed year upon year.’

Monday’s court case revealed early estimates to rebuild the facility could cost £1m after more than £75,000 of damage was caused.

The boys had set fire to the evidence of their break-in but poured petrol on the fire – causing the damage and leaving them with severe burns.

Ben Forrester from Harvest Home FC added: ‘We were still paying full whack £52.25 per pitch and facility hire.

‘There’s rarely hot water in the showers.

‘So teams started to book 4G pitches, Furze Lane, Southdowns and Park Community School because we knew we would have hot water, clean warm changing rooms and a decent pitch.’

As reported, the fire ripped through the building on October 1 last year – leaving much of it unusable.

READ MORE: Teenagers arrested for pavilion blaze

Teams booking the eight pitches at the playing fields now have no guarantee they will be allowed to use the showers unless told by the council as there are not enough to service all the pitches.

Councillor Steve Pitt is cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport at the council.

Cllr Pitt said. ‘We are currently considering our options.

‘As well as working out the costs associated with repairing the damage we are exploring possible investment and funding opportunities.

‘Many clubs use this facility, and with over 35 games regularly taking place at the city's playing fields each weekend we are keen to restore the pavilion as soon as possible.’

Both boys, 15 and 16, involved in the fire admitted arson reckless as to whether life was endangered.