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Footballers dismiss Sobell extra time offer as ‘wholly inadequate’

Players kicked out of leisure centre to make way trampoline park are offered five-and-a-half hours a week

18 August, 2017 — By Emily Finch

John Barber: ‘There is no reason why five-a-side football cannot be made available most weekday evenings’

IN what is seen as a partial climbdown, Town Hall chiefs have offered five-and-a-half hours of sessions a week to footballers who face being kicked out of the Sobell Leisure Centre sports hall.

Hundreds of five-a-side players were displaced in June when work started on a trampoline park covering half the courts at the council-owned sports centre in Hornsey Road, Holloway. The move was agreed without a formal consultation, sparking protests.

The Town Hall’s head of leisure Mark Christodoulou told campaigners on Wednesday that football will be programmed for three hours from 4pm on Friday and for two-and-a-half hours at Sunday lunchtime at the sports hall.

But the move was branded as “wholly inadequate” by campaigners. Footballer John Barber said the proposed hours were unsuitable for most players who work, adding: “There is no reason why five-a-side football cannot be made available most weekday evenings.”

The Town Hall has said the trampoline park will promote exercise for young people, especially girls, and double the number of visitors.

In a joint statement, GLL and the council said: “[We] are committed to reviewing future provision of indoor football in the Sobell sports hall. We’ve already provided 14.5 hours at Sobell’s outdoor floodlit pitches and indoors at Holloway School, which can take more indoor football programming.”

The sports hall will shut from August 29 to September 6 for the trampoline park work.

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