The Evening News has been able to identify through independent research that at least 35 full-sized pitches for football use by the public have been lost during this period.
This figure was arrived on after taking into account the new facilities that were built in their place. And it is said that demand for pitches will only grow on the back of women’s football becoming the fastest growing sport on the planet.
Tam Smith, Hutchison Vale’s club secretary, said: “I see a lot of green space that used to be football pitches given away to private schools and universities with no transparency whatsoever.
“Grassroots sport is suffering death by a thousand cuts by a council that does not have the word ‘sport’ in any of its department titles.
“They need to be taken to task, between them they are destroying football, while at the same time facilitating rugby and the arts.”
He added: “Face it, we live in a city which aspires to elitism and is status driven. People need to wake up and start questioning politicians about the decisions that affect their lives.
“Maybe we should start by asking why we need so many politicians and why there are four councillors for every ward, especially when we are told cuts are necessary.
“Why not set an example by cutting their number, they are outdated – a new way of local government is required so that decisions made are representative of all the people not just the Edinburgh elite.”
Edinburgh City Council has stated that sport pitches are protected by planning legislation so any development that results in a loss of a pitch must be compensated by new pitches or investment in current pitches elsewhere.
The council also claimed that with the construction of synthetic pitches at the sites of lost grass fields, there has been an increase in capacity for use by football clubs, and at the very least there is no decrease in the level of accessibility to full size pitches.
However, the cost of hiring an entire synthetic pitch for an hour to conduct training is £75.90, whereas a grass pitch is only £37.13. When you look at fees for matches, the contrast also makes for uncomfortable reading; £74.40 for match fees on a synthetic pitch and £53.05 for grass.
The above costs show quite clearly the issue associated with costs and accessibility when grass pitches disappear.
A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “By investing in better quality sports pitches – replacing grass with synthetic and 3G – we have actually seen the year-round use of Edinburgh’s sports pitches increase. These pitches support a range of activities – football, rugby, cricket, hockey, baseball, soccer sevens.
“Many of the pitches highlighted were closed because they were found to be severely underused or in poor condition. Our aim is to increase access to physical activity in the city and get more people active, which means constantly reviewing usage, supply and demand by members of the community as well as clubs. We also support the creation of new pitches in Edinburgh.”
Some locations have seen multiple pitches closed:
1 – City Park
2 – Gyle Park, pictured3 – Gyle Park4 – Gyle Park5 – Gyle Park6 – Gyle Park7 – Gyle Park
8 – Sighthill9 – Sighthill10 – Sighthill
11 – Spartans12 – Spartans13 – Spartans
14 – Inverleith15 – Inverleith16 – Inverleith17 – Inverleith18 – Inverleith
19 – Gypsy Brae20 – Gypsy Brae21 – Drumbrae Leisure
22 – Portobello
23 – Union Park
24 – Craigroyston25 – Craigroyston
26 – Forrester/St Augustine27 – Forrester/St Augustine
28 – Roseburn29 – Roseburn
30 – Campbell Park
31 – Powderhall32 – Powderhall
33 – Wardie34 – Wardie
35 – Saughton