May 22 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, June 17, 2012
An amateur football club says it has been kicked to the kerb after players were turfed out of their stadium ahead of the Olympics.
Teams from the voluntary All Players Sports Association (APSA) were unable to use the Terance Macmillan Stadium at the Newham Leisure Centre for the whole of last season.
This was so the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) could improve the track and field facilities for Games-time training use.
APSA, which has a team in the Essex Senior League and seven youth teams, has been sharing with Clapton FC in Upton Lane, Forest Gate but now faces life outside the borough.
It was founded as an association for Pakistani-born sportsmen and is currently funded through private sponsorship.
Chairman Zulfi Ali said they were originally told they would be back at the stadium by December, but that was delayed until March.
Now they have been told they will not be allowed back until October at the earliest, stretching into the start of the 2012/13 season.
He said: “I just think we are playing second fiddle to the Olympics. We are a club that is part of the community but we feel undervalued.
“If we are forced to leave Newham then there will be people who just won’t be able to come.
“We are all volunteers and a lot of people in the community benefit from what we do.”
A Newham Council spokesman said the work was suspended because it was dependent on the temperature. Locog will manage the stadium during the Games
He added: “Once the Games are over further works will be needed on the site to ensure that the football pitch meets league requirements. For this reason we have advised the clubs that the pitch is unlikely to be available until early October.
“Our clubs and groups are very important to delivering sustainable levels of sport activities that will continue to benefit the community long after the 2012 Olympic Games.
“Once the works are complete, it will leave behind world class facilities that our residents and community groups can continue to enjoy for years to come.”
Mr Ali thanked Newham Council for keeping them up to date and for giving them financial support since they lost the use of the stadium.
He added: “I understand the importance of the Olympics and respect the stringent timelines.
“I just wish for the sake of all the players and supporters we can play a league season at a place we call home and have done for nearly 10 years.”