Forced out by thieves

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ONE of Wigan’s major sporting venues has been hit by a spate of thefts which could threaten its future, we can reveal.

And at least one of the town’s biggest amateur football clubs has opted to switch its base, after a series of incidents targeting their players.

Ashton Athletic’s sides regularly use the facilities at St John Rigby College for training purposes.

However, the club’s members have recently found themselves falling victim to thieves who are operating on the car park.

The most recent incident occurred last Tuesday evening while the first team was playing.

Club secretary Alan Greenhall said: “We have been using the facilities for a while now, and it’s a real shame that this is spoiling it.

“Last Tuesday we had five vehicle windows broken with numerous items taken. They have been going on on-off for the last year now.

“We are now looking elsewhere, possibly up at St Peters.”

Police have confirmed that, on Tuesday, there was a report of theft of a nail gun, jigsaw, hammer and drill from a van on the car park.

Mr Greenhall added: “They see the people coming and they just go and hide in the bushes nearby, then come out when they want. The latest incident is the second one since Christmas and the fourth this season. All the lads have had enough.

“The car park is situated so far away from the pitches that they are out of sight and with no CCTV cameras covering it. If some sort of security would be put in place then we’d probably go back there because the facilities are absolutely fantastic.”

A number of teams use the facilities as a training ground. Both Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic have used them when their training pitches have been out of use. Orrell Rugby Union also train there and coach Bill Lyon says his players have also reported such incidents.

He said: “After training, one of our lads noticed damage to somebody else’s car. The only area in use is the all-weather pitches. It’s a massive shame and hopefully something can be done about it.”

St John Rigby College principal Peter McGhee added: “These incidents happened outside of college hours. In the evening, activities are managed by Body and Mind fitness.”

Body and Mind have confirmed that they know about the thefts and are currently reviewing the situation.