In today’s economic climate, budget cuts are likely hit every area of city life. Even, it seems today, the football field.
The city council’s proposals to reduce white line painting on pitches might not seem like the most serious issue when schools are crumbling and roads can’t be fixed.
But it is yet another case where people have paid expecting a certain service, only to be told it is being downgraded.
Other than bin collections and the like, the use of sports facilities may actually be the only direct contact many people have with city council services.
And it is not like this is a fully taxpayer-funded service – the use of these pitches doesn’t come cheap for sports teams and they should be able to expect a decent standard of facility.
Whether the idea of burning lines into the pitch creates an acceptable playing surface or not, there is little doubt that it is a poorer option.
The needs of sports teams clearly have to be weighed against many different demands on the city council’s coffers, and we accept that difficult decisions and sacrifices have to be made.
But if this proposal does go ahead then it will need to be monitored carefully and feedback from stakeholders taken into account.
The absolute worst outcome would be if the actions of the council actually end up discouraging people from taking part in organised sports.
Not only would this go against key health messages and the aims of the local authority but less healthy lifestyles would ultimately create demands which would fall again on the taxpayer.
Hopefully a compromise can be found which will keep all users of the pitches happy and enable the council to provide the most efficient service possible.
That would ensure fair play all round.