No ifs, just butts - Non League teams will need to find other ways of watering pitches
As millions of people in the south and east of England work out how to handle the hosepipe ban which comes into effect today, the double standards of the water companies and the law have created a two-tier system for football.
For whilst Football League and Premier League grounds are exempt from the ban, it seems Non League sides are not and will be banned from keeping their pitch in tip-top condition over a long hot summer.
That means non league clubs are in greater danger of losing revenue from matches which have to be called off due to unsuitable or unplayable pitches in the new season. Whilst I applaud the ability of the Prem and FL sides to be able to secure watering through the summer, it is again an example of how organisations outside the sport do not understand the needs of the smaller clubs.
Sure, the likes of a Norwich, Gillingham or MK Dons would lose a lot of money if their games had to be called off because the surfaces were too hard come the autumn. But, with respect, smaller clubs like a Chatham, Thetford or Bedford would lose a far greater percentage of their overall revenue if their games had to be called off – putting them at a far greater financial risk than a bigger side.
When I approached Anglia Water to request a reason why Norwich City are allowed to water Carrow Road, but nearby St Andrew’s FC cannot – I did not get a response. I would love to know how this affects other sports too. Does it mean Saracens can water their pitch (as they ground share with Watford), but The Stoop in Twickenham can’t be?
Pardon the pun – but all I am asking for here is a level playing field. If big clubs can do it, so should smaller clubs. The fact we are talking about it shows a distinct lack of education by the water companies on this subject.
Don’t forget, if you use your hosepipe in an area where it is banned, you could face a £1000 fine. To find out which areas are affected, go to your local water company website.
Meanwhile, Sport England has produced a guide for ground staff on what they can do to protect pitches during drought. You can read it here.