Leisure Leagues is demanding an urgent review of rules that it termed as “nonsensical and draconian” after a league that had been running for almost a decade was forced to close.
The competition – at Reading FC Academy Dome – was stopped at short notice just before Christmas last year, with the club citing “safeguarding” issues after an audit on the Academy from the Premier League.
Such a cancellation posed problems for the world’s largest provider of 5, 6 and 7 a side football, as League Manager Adam Glover explained: “We have been running that league for almost ten years, and thousands of players from Reading and Berkshire more widely have played in it every Sunday, so our reaction was more shock than anything else.”
The players have all been housed at the company’s other Reading League, on a Tuesday at Prospect Park, but that has not lessened Adam’s disappointment. “It’s such a shame,” he said. “That, yet again, unaccountable football bureaucrats have made these decisions and it is the public that suffers. Frankly it is nonsensical that they send down these draconian edicts, it goes against all common sense.”
Glover was quick to stress that Leisure Leagues, who operate leagues in five continents, have no problem at all with the football club: “Absolutely not,” he affirmed. “What can they do? They are abiding by the rules that they need to, and they have been absolutely wonderful with us.”
Nor has it had a great deal of effect on the Leisure Leagues competitions in Reading, but Adam explained that was not why the firm was choosing to speak out. “We are grateful to Prospect Park for giving us extra time on a Tuesday, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that ordinary people are missing out on what would be wonderful experiences, through no fault of their own or anyone at the football club.”
It is hoped that the league will return to The Dome at some point in 2020, with Adam saying: “We have been given every encouragement that Reading FC want their facility to be a true community hub again, and we hope that it is. We just want football to be for everyone, as it should be. “
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