AN UNAUTHORISED traveller encampment prevented more than 1,000 people from playing football this week.
A group of travellers pitched up on Stoneham Lane Football Complex in Eastleigh on Monday – to the detriment of those who play there.
The travellers pitched up for 29 hours before leaving the Eastleigh complex on Tuesday following police intervention.
One concerned parent of a player said: "This is disgusting. What are the police doing?
"This is an issue that will grow and grow the longer it goes on.
"I am livid and about to write to the local MP."
A total of 94 football teams could not play their matches or train during this period.
Of the 94 teams, 56 could not play their games at the scheduled time, resulting in many being postponed.
Some 28 matches could not be played in total from Monday to Tuesday.
The travellers’ arrival prompted Hampshire FA, who run the football ground, to temporarily close the complex.
However, this did not prevent damage to the site as the height barrier at the entrance was damaged, along with the grass pitch.
“Excess” rubbish was also found across the site.
The organisation said the decision to close the site was made to “ensure the safety of the users and staff were met as well as keeping the rest of the site locked and secure to minimise further damage".
But the damage to the grass has put renovations back by five to seven days due to repair works needed, with the pitches out of action for the next five days.
The closure of the complex sparked outrage online, with one angry parent saying: “[This is] so unfair on the kids who now will miss out.
Other commenters said the travellers’ arrival was “not fair” and “annoying”.
The football complex reopened on the evening of Wednesday, May 25.
Hampshire Constabulary say they visited the encampment on "several occasions" over the course of two days and continued to monitor the situation.
A spokesperson said: "Under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, notice was served to those in attendance on the site and the encampment was moved on from Stoneham Lane on Tuesday evening."
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