Around 100 young footballers and their coaches found themselves locked out of a pre-booked training session at Brownstown Park last week - on what they claim is no less than two occasions.
On Monday, members of Portadown Youth, who were booked in for sessions from 6-7 and 7-8, were unable to access the 3G pitch at 6pm, after staff from ABC Council failed to turn up to open it.
The disappointed youngsters missed more than half of the first session.
On Wednesday evening, it is claimed the club again encountered a locked gate, prompting complaints and concerns over safety.
Councillor Darryn Causby, whose help was called upon on Monday to get the grounds opened, described the situation as an “absolute scandal”.
He said, “This raises a number of safety concerns due to the busyness of the car park and the sheer number of young people on site for the training.
“I got a phone call about 6.15 on Monday and had to phone the council to get somebody out to open the pitch.
“On Wednesday morning, I raised the issue with the director of leisure and community and his head of services and they said they would make sure it didn’t happen again.
“I know they wouldn’t have had time to do anything before Wednesday night, when it happened again. Someone in the adjoining community centre happened to have a key and was able to open the pitch within 10-15 minutes, although it was not his responsibility to do so.”
Added Councillor Causby, “Parking in the area isn’t great and the speed ramps are totally ineffective - the council is already aware of the safety issues.
A spokesperson for ABC Council said, “On Monday, September 5, Portadown Youth FC had booked Brownstown Park 3G pitch from 6pm to 9pm; unfortunately this booking was overlooked and the team were late getting on to the pitch. Council spoke to a team representative the next day to apologise for the inconvenience experienced and a refund was given to the team for this booking.
“The team had also booked the 3G pitch on Wednesday, and gained entry to the facility at 6pm. It should be noted that when teams book council 3G pitches that they are booked hourly and entry cannot be gained to these sites before the time of booking.
“Council is now working to resolve this issue to ensure that this does not happen again.”