Hardly a level playing field?

BRIAN Jones, in his letter last week headed “We only want a level playing field”, bemoaned the fact Eastbourne Borough FC appeared to be receiving preferential treatment from the council compared to tEastbourne United and other senior clubs.

Mr Jones provided a partial breakdown of the cost incurred for United’s ground improvements. The implication was the costs should have been reduced and even the local paper should have discounted their normal fee for publishing a statutory notice. This sentiment of entitlement is staggering.

A number of years ago Sussex County Cricket Club indicated that Eastbourne County Cricket week, which had run for decades and brought much income and publicity to the town, might have to be cancelled. Various reasons were given including the state of the Saffrons wicket, but the true reasons were financial and the logistics of Sussex CCC moving the operation to Eastbourne from Hove just for a week.

Lengthy discussions with the senior town council officials on how they could help preserve this well-loved week came to nothing. I still recall the comment of the then head of tourism that if the council provided financial help to the Saffrons Sports Club, they would have to provide assistance to all local cricket clubs. Over the last few years, clearly life and some people’s aspirations have changed totally as there now appears to be an expectation by some, that football clubs should be supported by ratepayers. Why football clubs?

In light of this mindset, I am certain a very worthwhile case for financial help could be made on behalf of Eastbourne Hockey Club. The club was founded in 1899 so it must tick the “locally well established” box. Ten teams play every week at a high standard and its long-established large junior section is the envy of most clubs in the south east. This growth has been achieved even though all the members have to pay a substantial annual membership fee in addition to weekly travel and match expenses.

A new or improved astro pitch would further enhance the quality of play but the £200k cost is prohibitive.

Unfortunately as the game of hockey does not have a fairy godmother such as the cash rich Football Association, funding would have to be sought from private firms and individuals. Or should we expect the council to assist?

Maybe they will also contribute towards the Saffrons substantial five figure annual rent, as in the real world our landlord expects us to pay this and also to maintain the land and buildings to a good standard.

Mr Jones asks for a level playing field. I presume he expects one that is funded by the council.


Selwyn Road