Council to consider writing down outstanding pitch fees

By Maurice Garvey

SOUTH Dublin County Council are to consider writing down outstanding pitch fees for hundreds of sports clubs for the 2019/2020 season.

The local authority will also consider providing a reduction of fees for clubs using over 160 council pitches in the 2020/2021 season.

Aerial photo compressor

Some of the pitches in Griffeen Valley Park

Cllr Shane Moynihan (FF) welcomed the decision as a “big victory” for sports clubs that are “squeezed” in difficult times.

He sought confirmation from the council this week that a deferral or reduction would be forthcoming, considering pitches had not been in use for “over three months”.

 “For many sports clubs, the impact of Covid-19 has been not only to shut down training and playing, but also has severely curtailed incomes for our clubs, many of which are under financial pressure,” he said.

“This decision by the council will provide some relief for clubs that are ultimately built on the goodwill of volunteers.”

He said many clubs contacted him to see what supports they can access in light of the pandemic.

Cllr Moynihan said annual pitch fees for a club like Ballyowen Celtic in Lucan, could be between €800 and €1,000 - representing “about 12.5 per cent of their annual spend.”

Ballyowen Celtic, who train and play their games in Griffeen Valley Park, said the fees depend on the number of teams they register.

“As we are a relatively small club, the fees will be higher for larger clubs that also use council pitches,” said a club spokesperson.

“If we receive a reduction in these fees along with other costs it will allow us to pass on a reduction in membership fees for the families of our players.

It has been a difficult time for all clubs unable to participate in soccer and no income from fees for clubs during the lockdown, and we want to keep as many young people as possible involved in sport so any reduction reduces the financial burden.”

In response to Cllr Moynihan, the council said it allocates temporary lettings of its playing pitches every year to affiliated clubs and sporting organisations in the county. 

“The allocation is carried out by way of a nine month seasonal letting subject to specified conditions including the payment of a fee. The fees are in respect of over 160 pitches provided and maintained by the council.

Clubs make various arrangements to pay their annual fees and are currently at stages which can be categorised as paid in full, partially paid or unpaid.

Cllr Moynihan also welcomed plans by the council to review its Community Grants Scheme.

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