A CHILDREN’S football tournament has been put under threat by travellers camping on Fareham Town FC’s sports fields.
Travellers arrived at the Palmerston Drive site in Fareham on Saturday, but the club is worried that even if they left today, the damage to the pitches is already too severe to be fixed in time.
The six-a-side tournament, which attracts teams from across the region, is due to take place at the club’s home at Cams Alders on June 30 and July 1. Training for the club’s mini-soccer teams has also had to be cancelled.
Club director Will Ralls said: ‘They’ve ruined the pitches by running their cars and vehicles up and down on them. We’re supposed to be holding the six-a-side tournament there a week on Saturday, but they’ve already made such a mess of the pitches even if they do go now.
‘Obviously we hope they won’t be there too long, but every hour they are, the surface gets worse and worse.’
And the club, which leases the land from Fareham Borough Council, will be left to foot the bill for dealing with the unwanted visitors, which could include paying for bailiffs to move them on.
Mr Ralls added: ‘I’m in the process of trying to remove them from the site, but it takes time.
‘The football club is struggling to survive financially as it is, now we’re going to have to pay more than £1,000 to get them moved on, and who knows how much more to restore the pitches and clean up after them.
‘We really do need new legislation to tackle this problem. Why should we have to pay for all this?’
The same group of travellers is believed to have been moving around the Fareham and Gosport area for the past few weeks.
As reported in The News, they got on to to Cams Alders after council staff claim they were ordered by police to allow the group access to the playing fields so they could turn around.
In a statement, the police said it only ‘requested’ the gates be opened.