Carshalton Athletic, Sutton United and Crystal Palace come out in protest at council plans to pay Chelsea
Plans to pay Chelsea £59,000 to attract visitors to the Life Centre have been met with fierce opposition from football teams already working with the borough's youth.
Crystal Palace, Sutton United and Carshalton Athletic have spoken out against Sutton Council's plans to pay the world's seventh richest club to help with school truancy and healthy eating.
Last week, the Sutton Guardian revealed council proposals to give Chelsea a base at the £8 million Sutton Life Centre, where it will try to increase visitor numbers and manage a scheme to help social inclusion in young people.
At last week's Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting, councillors voted overwhelmingly favour of the plans, despite protests.
Paul Dipre, owner and manager of Carshlaton Athletic told the meeting: "A lot of the things you are planning to pay Chelsea to do, we are doing already.
We have 750 local schoolchildren involved in our holiday clubs, we have one of the largest soccer schools in the UK and we have two football academies."
Crystal Palace, who's award winning Kickz programme helps young people who are at risk of falling into crime, has said it feels "thoroughly let down by the announcement."
David Groves, Chairman of the Crystal Palace FC Foundation, which already has a base at the Life Centre, said he was taken completely by surprise by the announcement.
He said: "We have invested heavily in Sutton over the last nine years and see ourselves as being firmly part of the local community."
Dave Farebrother, chairman of Sutton United PLC, wrote to councillors on the committee to express his concerns.
It said: "We are disappointed that Chelsea FC did not afford us, as the senior club in the borough, the courtesy of advance notification of their intentions and are also that officials at the London borough of Sutton did not bring the matter to our attention."
Steve O' Connell, Greater London Assembly member has also weighed into the argument.
He said: "As a life ling Palace Fan and Sutton Assembly Member I was horrified at Sutton Council's decision to bung that hard up club Chelsea FC £59,000 a year to ‘promote’ the ailing Life Centre.
The real local club, the Eagles, have been developing youth at the Life Centre and throughout Sutton for years."
Councillor Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee, said: "It is a very exciting proposal that could really benefit young people across the borough.
"We look forward to continue working with CFCF to bring this project to life.
"And we are also delighted to talk to Sutton United, Carshalton Athletic and Sutton Little Leagues and other sporting bodies to see how they can get involved.
We value the work they do with children across the borough and want to work with them as much as we can, but the prestige of Chelsea as a brand cannot be ignored."
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