A FOOTBALL coach has criticised decisions to close pitches despite 'perfect playing conditions'.

Gary Molyneux, coach of Halshaw Moor Football Club Under-17s team, complained after matches at Harper Green playing fields were cancelled due to the conditions of the pitch on a number of occasions in January and February.

He went down to the pitch and took a picture of the grass, claiming it was perfectly playable and has complained to the authority.

But a spokesman from Bolton Council said the decision had been made after workers had looked at the ground conditions and saw the recent forecasts of heavy rain, frost and snow.

Mr Molyneux said it was having an impact on the teenagers who play for his club as well as the coaches.

He said: "I was down at the pitches and it is perfect playing conditions.

"It is just frustrating because we have about 18 young lads who want to play football and can't.

"The pitches should be well maintained as the terms of the lease does not even allow us to train on the pitch."

Teams that are part of the Bolton, Bury and District Football League are given weekly updates by Bolton Council on the conditions of pitches.

An automated message is sent out to clubs informing them whether they are closed.

The pitch has been closed on the weekend of January 27, February 3 and last weekend.

A council spokesman said: "We can understand Mr Molyneux’s frustrations and we regret any inconvenience caused to players, coaches and clubs.

"The decision to cancel matches is not taken lightly. We look at the ground conditions and the weather forecast for the weekend, and heavy rain, frost and snow have not helped us this season. Also while pitches may look dry, they can often be waterlogged and too wet to mark.

"Playing on ground that is too wet can cause significant surface damage and we have a duty to prevent further damage to pitches.

"Where possible we do leave it up to referees to make a decision."

Information on pitches in the area can be found at bolton.gov.uk