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Barnet Deaf FC offered chance by Saracens Rugby Club to move to Copthall Community Sports Ground
Players say the showers rarely ever work and the club is facing action from the English Deaf Football Association over the lack of facilities
A team of deaf footballers fed up with their “appalling” treatment by Barnet Council have been offered the chance to move.
Saracens Rugby Club met with Barnet Deaf FC last week and is looking to include the club in its new set-up at the Copthall Community Sports Ground, next to the Allianz Park stadium.
The pitches are owned by Barnet Council but Saracens is taking over the running and maintenance of the facilities and has already begun installing new drainage ready for the start of the next football season.
Barnet Deaf FC said last week they are fed up with the treatment they receive at their current home ground in the Montrose Avenue playing fields in Burnt Oak.
The club pays £600-a-year to hire the facilities from Barnet Council but say they are poorly maintained. Players say they have been forced to clear broken glass from the pitches before games and complain that the showers rarely work.
The club is also facing action by the English Deaf Football Association for failing to provide shower facilities for a team from Sunderland, which was forced to travel home without showering.
But, following the meeting with Saracens last week, committee members say they are looking forward to the future at the potential new ground.
Brinthan Nanthabalan, chairman of Barnet DFC, said: "We were bowled over by the vision and initiative shown by Saracens Rugby Club.
“They contacted us directly and invited us for a meeting at their stadium. Allianz Park is truly a community stadium with something for everyone. We could have not wished for a more positive meeting.
“We are looking forward to moving to Copthall Playing Fields for next season and working together with Saracens and the Football Development Group to become part of the inclusive, community atmosphere being fostered by the club.”
The football club’s situation attracted the attention of Labour’s GLA member for Barnet, Andrew Dismore, who met with the them last week and suggested talking to Saracens.
Speaking about the latest developments, he said: “This is great news. It is outrageous that they were being charged by the council so much for so little, and for facilities that were so substandard it was embarrassing them in the eyes of visiting teams.
“Barnet Council should be ashamed of their lack of concern towards this long-standing club’s fully justified complaints.
“I am grateful to Saracens for helping out in such a constructive way which is fully in line with their obvious and welcome commitment to the local community.”
Barnet Council said last week it was aware of the shower issues at the Montrose Avenue pitches, but insisted they are now fixed.
The authority also said it had offered the football club the opportunity to move to an alternative location, but it had declined.
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