A BLOSSOMING Bradford football club is being plagued by vandals who have stolen or damaged parts of a pitch-perimeter fence.
Players and management at Bradford Horton Sports fear the anti-social behaviour - which also includes daubing of graffiti on changing room buildings - could hamper future progress of the club.
Mohammed Rizwan, a manager and former player at the club, said Sports' open age Saturday team had ambitions of climbing from its current standing of the West Riding League Division One, through to the Premier Division, and then the North East Counties League.
Mr Rizwan said promotion to the Premier Division would be denied if the club could not meet Step Seven standards at its Myra Shay ground in Barkerend. Step Seven includes a perimeter fence, good quality changing rooms and an acceptable playing surface.
"There is a lot of anti-social behaviour," said Mr Rizwan. "It is petty behaviour - they are also dumping piles of wood on the pitch. And I think if the fence was totally removed, they could kick us out of the league.
"We are trying to benefit the community. We have got 12 teams from under-sevens through to open age on Saturdays and Sundays.
"The footballers look after it as well - it is like a little community. It hurts me because we put a lot into it."
Sports collect subs from players, but that money goes towards things like referees' fees and washing kit.
"We can't afford to replace the fence," said Mr Rizwan. "I think it would cost a couple of grand to fence the whole pitch."
Mr Rizwan warned the vandals after club sponsor CCTV Tek offered to install cameras at the ground for free.
"It is a big gesture from owner Quazam Khan," said Mr Rizwan. "The vandals need to know they will be caught on camera now."
Phil Barker, Bradford Council’s assistant director for sport and leisure, said: “We are sorry that the football club is suffering because of vandalism and any criminal damage should be reported to the police.
"Maintaining the fence is the responsibility of the club but we will help them with temporary repairs."
Mr Rizwan said the club was aiming to get the leasehold on the Bradford Council-owned pitch and was currently in negotiations with the authority.
"We are applying to the Council for leasehold," he said. "We could get private funding if we had the leasehold."
Mr Rizwan also urged local businesses to get in touch if any wanted to sponsor the club. He can be contacted on 07792 936887.