New figures compiled by the DfES have revealed that 120 pieces of land the size of a pitch have been sold to developers in the past two and a half years. The scale of the continuing sell-offs shocked campaigners - three years after legislation introduced stringent safeguards which were supposed to stem the loss of open spaces for school sports.
Government spokesmen have insisted in the past that most land sold since then by education authorities involved small portions of land which were the wrong size or shape for sports pitches. However,the latest figures refer only to grassed land suitable for a 2,000 sq m pitch, the FA recommended size for under-10s soccer.
Since 1999, the year after the government introduced legislation to curb sales, only two applications to sell pitches were refused by ministers. In a third of the sales since 1999, the field was either replaced with alternative land or was rented by the school which sold it in a leaseback arrangement.