Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 15:07 UK

Pitches closed over injury fears

Football and rugby have been suspended on council owned pitches in Norfolk because low rainfall and warm weather has dried many of them out.

Officials in Norwich and Great Yarmouth have closed grounds to protect grass and to prevent players being injured.

The suspension applies to both general use and league games.

Norwich has four parks with a range of pitches and several smaller grounds while Great Yarmouth has six sports areas for football and rugby.

'Mud baths'

Roy Blower, from Norwich City Council, said: "It's a sorry situation that we have nice weather and cannot play football. It must be heart rending for the people organising games.

"We need to preserve the pitches for the rest of the season because if the dry grass is scraped off, especially in goal areas, they will become mud baths when the rain comes.

"There is also a safety issue because if players fall over on the hard surface they could do themselves some mischief.

"It's ironic that the forecast is for rain on Saturday but that's not early enough to allow games to go ahead.

"We cannot get water to irrigate so many pitches across the city because that would be far too expensive."

Paul Kelf from Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: "After last weekend we had a flood of inquiries from youth league teams about how hard the pitches were so for the protection of the grounds and players we have suspended games.

"We plan to review the situation weekly.

"All six council grounds for both football and rugby are closed until the weather breaks and we get some serious rain and then they can play again."

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