Football bosses cry foul as pitches are ripped up

Coach Scott Gane and son Connor are left kicking their heels
Coach Scott Gane and son Connor are left kicking their heels
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A BOYS football club have been left without their pitches after a blunder saw them ripped up without warning.

Coaches at Edina Hibs FC were stunned to discover that both their pitches at Jewel Park – where they have been playing for more than 40 years – had been fenced off and stripped of all their turf.

The seven-a-side pitches were dug up during work to upgrade the sewage system – which was carried out by Scottish Water on behalf of the council – to support new houses being built in Craigmillar.

Club chairman Keith Owens said: “I got a phone call from one of the coaches to ask if I knew what was happening because there were posts and fences going up.

“I went down to look at it myself and was quite staggered – it’s just mud, all the top soil has been taken off.”

Edina’s under-13 to under-16 teams all compete in the Lothian Buses South East League and the club’s season begins on March 4, but Mr Owens has been told the work will not be completed until late June or early July.

“It will be at least another nine months before the grass grows back and the pitch can be used,” said Mr Owens.

“We operate on a shoestring budget, so it’s going to a problem for us to pay for facilities.

“It would have been courtesy to have kept us up to date with what was happening.

“We’re also concerned over whether the pitch is going to be put back in a reasonable order and whether there is going to be a phase two to this project.

“I’m pretty sure we will be able to find other facilities, but the worst case scenario is we might not be able to play our games at all.

“Losing these two pitches is going to be crucial because there’s a lack of football facilities in the east of Edinburgh.”

The loss leaves the club with the use of just one pitch in Bingham Park.

A council spokesperson said: “Scottish Water’s contractor, George Leslie Ltd, was responsible for timely information to be provided to residents and stakeholders, including Edina football team.

“We have been informed today that 100 letters have now been delivered to residents and that leaflets and posters will be displayed locally.”

The spokesman added Scottish Water had arranged a meeting with Edina Hibs on Friday.

But a Scottish Water spokesman refused to comment on the breakdown in communication and still claimed the work “will not directly impact on the pitches themselves”.

He said: “Scottish Water Horizons, the stand-alone business, is the contractor on this Edinburgh City Council waste water upgrade project.

“This work will not directly impact on the pitches themselves. We always endeavour to provide advance notification.”

No-one from George Leslie Ltd was available for comment.

Yesterday, the Evening News reported that a fixture between Tynecastle and Whitehill Welfare had to be called off after a council groundsman’s attempts to freshen up the pitch left it “double lined”.