Travellers put Warwick football club's biggest fundraiser in jeopardy
The biggest fundraising event of the year for a Warwick football club is in jeopardy after travellers have moved onto the site.
Last night travellers moved onto the Central Ajax Football Club site, which is on Hampton Road.
The club were scheduled to host their annual summer tournament this weekend, where approximately 1,000 children take part across the weekend.
The event is the football club’s biggest fundraiser of the year and is likely to be cancelled because of the traveller encampment.
Sam Canty, who is vice chairman and manager of the First Team, said: “I was the last person that left the site last night at 9.15pm. We had lots of volunteers and families on the site last night to help us set up for the weekend. We had a couple of vans travel down the drive way and turn around.
“I locked the gate when I left and then we started to get messages from social media saying travellers were breaking into the site. We got a team together of parents, players and members and we went down and started to secure the gate when a few of them came out threatening that if we didn’t unlock the gate they would get people down with weapons. They then got big bolt cutters and cut the lock off.”
Currently there are at least 10 caravans as well as several other vehicles on the training pitch on the site.
On Friday evening travellers moved onto a carpark at Warwick Parkway station and were served notice yesterday (Tuesday). All of the travellers have now left the car park.
It is believed that those travellers moved onto the football club’s site.
The police were called to the site last night and they are currently going through procedure with the Warwick District Council to try and evict the travellers.
Neil Adams, facilities manager and team manager for the U10’s at the football club, said: “This is a community club and we have been planning this event meticulously. This event provides the biggest amount of funds for the club. This is going to cripple us.
“Our tournament and the tournament booked for the Leamington Hibs Club next weekend are both in jeopardy.”
Sam and other members of the football club have managed to speak with the travellers.
He said: “I have been told by one of the women that they plan to stay there a while and that they picked the site as it was perfect for when they pick up waste they are paid to move and then put it on our site.
“There are ponies on the land, they have broken into our container which had training equipment for the kids in it, they have turned on the floodlights and are using our electricity.
“We pleaded with them to stay off the grass because of the event at the weekend and they proceeded to get in their vans and do doughnuts across the pitches. We believe they are trying to break into the clubhouse and the kids are using our training equipment as toys and damaging it.”
Even if the travellers are moved from the site in time, there is a chance the tournament still might not go ahead.
Sam said: “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. We are about to lose £8,000 to £9,000 in revenue for the club.
“Me and my friend, Matt Bates, who died after fighting cancer last year, played at this club when we were aged 11 until we were 18.
“We went back to the club to coach after university and then I came back after Matt died as I wanted to fundraise for him and go back to where we played.
“In nine months I have put so much into improving the club and everybody saw we were going in the right direction and gaining support from the community.
“It breaks my heart to say but I don’t think the event will go on. We have to be socially responsible. At the moment I would say it is 75 per cent likely we are going to have to cancel it.”
The club members are advising people who normally walk around the site or use the site to now avoid the area.