Hackney’s most successful amateur football club has asked Hackney council to help it build a stadium so the team can progress through the leagues.
Sporting Hackney’s first team play in the Middlesex County Football League Premiere Division. They have won the league cup in the past two seasons but cannot get promoted because the club’s facilities do not meet higher leagues’ requirements.
The club currently plays at Hackney Marshes, which is registered as common land and the public has the ‘right to roam’ there, making it unsuitable for the professional football higher leagues.
Chairman Matt Brown told Eastlondonlines: “The first stage is to establish a stadium in Hackney. Hackney is the only borough without its own stadium even though we won the league and cup double last year.
“It’s a struggle to hold onto players and managers. Last year we saw a large majority of our players leave because they want to play at a higher level.”
The club also wants to attract better players. Sporting Hackney was established 30 years ago with a grant from the council and over the years has moved up through the ranks of grassroots football.
Next door borough Tower Hamlets has Mile End stadium where fellow amateur side Tower Hamlets FC plays. Mile End was refurbished in 2011, thanks to the London 2012 Olympics.
Brown added that the whole borough would benefit from a new stadium. “There is a gap between grassroots’ football and professional. There are no higher league clubs in Hackney. Those under-15 players who do well are left with the choice of either getting into a big club academy or giving up on football altogether. We see it as our responsibility to build a ladder from youth football to adult football at a borough level.”
Hackney Downs Councillor Michael Desmond will put forward a deputation to the full council this month, asking for help to find a suitable site for the stadium.
If you would like to see Sporting Hackney in action they play on Hackney Marshes on Saturday and Sundays. First team games are held on the Show Pitch on Saturdays. @SportingHackney
Follow Huw Sambrook on Twitter: @Huwsambrook