Open letter to junior football clubs

27 February 2015

Cllr Gwyn John has written to all junior football clubs in the Vale of Glamorgan in response to recent media interest in the Council's work to promote the game in the Vale.

Following recent reports in the press regarding the Council’s commitment to football in the Vale I have spoken to a number of coaches working with children and young people in the Vale in recent days. I feel I must set the record straight on a few points.

Firstly, and most importantly, the allegation that the Council is giving funding to Barry Town United FC is simply untrue. The Council’s relationship with the club is that the authority owns Jenner Park Stadium. The club, along with Rhoose FC and Barry and Vale Athletics Club, pay the Council to use it. Both football teams have equal rights to use the pitch and both have entered into commercial relationships with the Council. Under these both currently pay £288 per game, plus additional variable costs such as floodlighting, to use Jenner Park for their home games.

As the stadium is a Council asset, it is our responsibility to ensure it is used for the benefit of the whole community. There has been no decision yet to commit any funding to improving the pitch at Jenner Park. We are, however, considering how we can develop the facility into one that can be used by the whole community, particularly children and young people.

A feasibility study into the installation of an all-weather pitch at Jenner Park was commissioned this year. In the near future cabinet will consider a report on how the investment in a 3G pitch could both reduce the cost of running the facility to the Council and enable more clubs and the general public to use it.   As part of this work we are looking at the whole Jenner Park area to see if more use can be made of the vacant clubhouse, and if any other facilities could be provided at the site to get more people in the Vale participating in sport. We are speaking to the Welsh FA and the FA Trust about our plans. Both have been very supportive.

The Council has a proud and long standing commitment to supporting mini football in the Vale of Glamorgan. We have offered extensive support to the mini-league in recent years and have not charged mini football clubs for the use of pitches. I have noted comments about mini football games being called off due to bad weather. To be clear, such decisions are not taken by the Council but by the coaches and managers of the mini league. The league also has free use on Saturday mornings of the current astro turf pitch at Barry Sports Centre. In addition to this, as a Council we would be more than happy to mark our mini pitches to permit games in the summer months if this would help address some of the weather related problems that are being experienced, though this is something that has not been requested.

We believe that children and young people would be delighted at the opportunity to play regularly at an improved Jenner Park Stadium. At this stage I cannot offer further details on plans for Jenner Park but be assured that senior officers within the Council are currently finalising a proposal that would give people of all ages the chance to run out at a first class facility. It would also allow Barry Town United and Rhoose FC to strengthen their ties with the community and bring more young people into the game.

This is an exciting time for football, and sport in general, in the Vale. The Vale of Glamorgan Council has been praised by Sport Wales for increasing the levels of physical activity in children, young people and adults.  We have not achieved this alone but rather by working with the many volunteers, sports clubs and community groups operating in the Vale who share our vision of making the Vale the healthiest and most enjoyable place to live in Wales. It is our goal to make high quality facilities available for football in the Vale throughout the year. I hope that all those who wish to see more opportunities for more children to play sport will continue to work with us to make this happen.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Gwyn John

Cabinet Member for Visible Services and Leisure