Petition launched as Forest United club fears being 'turfed out' of Wembley grounds
- Credit: Sanjeev Shah
More than 400 people have signed a petition to save a 48-year-old grassroots football club in Wembley.
Brent Council has been accused of "turfing out" Forest United Football Club after dropping "bombshell" news that they can no longer practice on the pitches in the John Billam and Tenterden Sports Grounds, in Woodcock Hill.
That year, the football club asked the council to consider such a transfer of the pavilion but when put to tender, Wembley Education Trust (WECT), which owns the French school, won.
In its application, WECT has proposed to develop a new multi-million pound indoor facility on two levels with ground floor changing rooms and a sports hall on the first floor.
Sanjeev Shah, whose two sons attend Forest United, launched a petition, which has now gathered 434 signatures.
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"My boys enjoy playing football and now Brent Council is refusing to let us use the grounds to train" he said. "There's a tin structure that was condemned many years ago. The old town hall got sold to the French school and there's a deal going on .
"This has been going on for years and there's no end in sight. Rather than give Forest United that space and the building permanently they will give them a short term lease so they can be thrown out at any time."
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Mr Shah said Brent Council's regeneration chief Councillor Shama Tatler lives nearby.
"This is supposed to be a community based project," added Mr Shah. "These times are hard and this club is supporting our kids and their parents. It's such a good thing that are keeping fit and out of trouble, knife crime and all.
"I also know Brent Council has a lot of money, it can give landlords millions of pounds to give a property for five years for temporary accommodation but it can't build a clubhouse."
Scott Wade, vice chairman and FUFC club secretary, said one of the most critical issue was access to the pitch.
"In May the council dropped a bombshell that we can't use the pitches other than for a match. If we do get to practice we have to practice on the grass."
Mr Wade asserts that while pitch usage had to be booked there was never any distinction as to the nature of that booking, whether a match, training, practice or a kick about.
He believes Brent changed the policy in the "last year or so".
"As a football club, one of our obligations is for high quality coaching and being on the pitch is where players get the impact of a match is core to our foundation as a club," he added.
He said "none of the grounds owned by Brent will be available" and the club will have to find somewhere else.
"We don't have any real feeling that this project is going to feasible in the end, whenever that end is."
Cllr Tatler said: “The former Pavilion has sadly seen better days and will make way as part of the new indoor sports facility development proposal at Tenterden Sports Ground.
"Forest United FC remain a big part of these exciting plans, as we recognise they have longstanding historical ties with this much-loved facility.
“With that in mind, there will be an area within the sports facility made available to them, while they will also be offered a long-term licence arrangement for the use of the sports pitches.”
A Brent Council spokesperson did not say when any policy change happened. They added: “Our sports clubs all pay a standard price to hold matches on our pitches and pay a reduced cost to train on unmarked ground.
"This applies to every club in the borough, ensuring pitches remain in the best condition for league matches.”