Council plan to stop painting football pitch lines

Kirkliston and South Queensferry 2007 team players Calum Malcolm, Calum Gilmore and Lewis Briggs. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Kirkliston and South Queensferry 2007 team players Calum Malcolm, Calum Gilmore and Lewis Briggs. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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WHITE lines will no longer be painted on football pitches across the city under new plans deemed “horrendous” by clubs.

Cash-strapped council chiefs want to use chemicals to “burn” longer-lasting markings into the grass instead in a bid to cut costs.

But it’s feared matches will be called off by referees who can’t make out touchlines and penalty areas.

Lines at the city’s 160 pitches are currently marked out with white paint every week – and stopping this would save the council £100,000 a year.

But football teams pay £46 to hire a grass pitch – meaning the council stands to make almost £15,000 every weekend if a pitch is used twice.

It’s understood the plans affect 154 pitches, with painting set to continue on six “flagship” parks at the Gyle and Silverknowes.

Angry league and club officials today urged the council to stick with the current arrangements, fearing “wholesale match cancellations” if the proposals get the green light.

John Robinson, secretary for the East of Scotland 21s Youth Football Association, said: “It’s horrendous. Football is meant to be played on pitches that have white lines.”

David Ramage, assistant match secretary at the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur Football Association (Leafa), agreed that fixtures could be at risk under the plans.

Leafa matches are played on council pitches every Saturday and Sunday.

Mr Ramage said: “A dirty brown mark on the park, it’s just nonsense. I can see games being cancelled because the referee cannot see the lines.

“You get a bad winter, with lots of rain and sodden pitches, you’ll have difficulty fulfilling all the fixtures. This only exacerbates the situation.”

Nigel Green, manager at Sunday morning side Gotham City, said the plans would not prove popular with players.

He said: “It doesn’t help with the flow of the game if you’re not sure if the ball is in or out, or in the penalty area or not. We would prefer things to remain the same.”

And youth coaches fear children would be turned away from the sport.

Mark Richardson, secretary for Kirkliston and South Queensferry FC, said: “It just seems to be another blow preventing kids playing football, getting outside and playing sport.”

City chiefs said no jobs would be lost by cutting back on line painting and that an alternative plan would be to paint lines on all pitches less often.

A council spokeswoman said: “If doing [white line marking] less frequently or burning out pitches could potentially save the council staff time, materials and money, we need to take a look at the feasibility of those ideas and how it could impact user experience and the environment.

“We would also welcome alternative ideas on budget savings and we are keen to consider all ideas.”