Amateur footballers are up in arms over Wigan Athletics’ plans to transform land at the back of a popular sports centre.
Teams across Wigan have ended up with “nowhere” to play regular matches after PowerLeague SoccerDome Wigan announced it would be closing its doors next month.
Hundreds of shocked residents spoke of their disappointment on learning that the sports pitches will close, saying that many- including countless children - will be left with nowhere to play as of August 16.
Earlier this month, the company released a statement saying: “We regret to inform you that Powerleague Wigan will be closing with the final day to play on Thursday, August 15.
“We would like to thank all of our customers for their loyalty throughout the years and enjoying the beautiful game at our facilities.
“If you would like to continue playing with us, we will take ownership of finding you the best alternative.
“If you have any questions about your bookings or any other queries, please visit us in club for more details or get in touch with us by calling 01942 210080 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org”
Ahead of this, in March 2019, Wigan Athletic put in a planning application to the town hall to “install an artificial pitch with floodlighting, with associated fencing and footpath access” on land at the rear of the SoccerDome.
The club has refused to expand on the reasoning behind the proposals, saying that it cannot comment for the time being.
Since the announcement of SoccerDome’s closure was made, the Wigan Post has been contacted by disgruntled sports groups and parents of children who attend the venue regularly.
One woman, whose son plays on a youth team, said: “Thousands of footballers of all abilities are to be displaced or in some cases permanently stopped.
“This includes the children’s under seven and under eight football leagues on Sundays, which have been going for many years.
“Staff are to be made redundant. This will not benefit our town in any way.
“For older and disabled people this may have been their only time in the week to get out and exercise or socialise with others and now it will be taken from them. Wigan football youth league and FS Academy both based at the soccerdome are looking for new venues.
“Local football venues are already full with local football clubs. My sons each play for two teams. So each spend two nights in the week training plus Saturday and Sunday playing their matches.
“This is the same for hundreds of families across the borough. This is an absolute travesty. Hundreds of people have put time and effort into local grassroots football making a better future for our children. Wigan Athletic are being allowed to take all these efforts away.”
Members of a walking football group also contacted the Wigan Post after hearing news of the closure.
“We are furious,” said Phil Parks, a team member. “Around 4,000 people play here and now they have nowhere to go.
“I can’t believe that they have done this to us. They are basically going to make a wad of money and throw everyone else out.”