Footballers break Covid rules to finish match - despite police warning
- Credit: Archant
Cocky footballers carried on with their match, in breach of Covid restrictions, at Redbridge FC this weekend - despite being warned by police to go home.
A group of around 10 men were spotted 'breaking into' the football ground in Station Road, Barkingside, for a illegal kickabout on Saturday afternoon.
Then, on Sunday, a similar-sized group gained access to the venue to play football. It is not known whether it was the same group.
On Saturday (January 30), at around 12.30pm, a resident saw someone unlock the club's gates and let in a number of people who then started playing football.
Police were called and asked the group to leave but they were seen finishing up their game for an hour after the officers left.
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The following day, at the same time, another group was spotted playing again, but by the time police arrived they had left the scene.
This is not the first time Redbridge FC has been used illegally for football. Police were called to the same club two weeks before and also let the players go with just a warning.
The resident, who asked not to be named, said he was "astonished" that, after reporting the club six times in the past two months, nothing has been done about it.
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He said: "When the police arrived, they had to put on their blue lights and shout over the fence to get someone to open the gates. They then drove in to talk to the footballers.
"Why they left and allowed the players to continue until their game was completed much later at 2.50pm, I do not know."
Bob Holloway, secretary for Redbridge FC said the game was not sanctioned by the club and the players must have broken in.
When asked how they were able to unlock and lock the gate multiple times, he said that a number of people have access to the gate but it was not authorised by the club.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said, owing to the demand of services on Sunday, police were not able to get to the club in time to catch the group.
Inspector Stuart Walker said: “On each occasion where police are called the incident is assessed by our contact centre and is prioritised along with all of the other calls we are receiving at that time.
“The volume of calls we receive dictates that violence, crimes in progress or members of the public in immediate danger, must be prioritised over less critical calls and there are times when demand exceeds supply."
Redbridge Council, which rents out the pitch to Redbridge FC, has yet to respond to requests for a statement.