Pub’s five-a-side pitch scores with community clubs

By Fred A'Court

- Last updated on GMT

Pitch perfect: trade increases by 25% at the pub when the football area is in use
Pitch perfect: trade increases by 25% at the pub when the football area is in use

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There are plenty of pubs that sponsor the local kids’ football team but a pub in Leeds has gone one better – it has built its own community pitch.

Publicans Rick and Bev Firth spent £12,000 of their own money to create the pitch at the rear of the Butterbowl Hotel.

It is used every weekend by up to 120 children aged between six and 14, with the Butterbowl providing food and drink.

With extra custom in the pub as a result, the 500sqm pitch has now paid for itself.

Rise in trade

Since Rick decided to build it, it has become home to the Leeds Juniors under-14s football team. The pub is now also the headquarters for Farnley Falcons rugby league club, which boasts 13 teams, including two girls’ sides.

“I got a digger in to dig out what used to be a small hill,” explained Rick, “put down grass seed, and got help erecting the pitch surrounds. The work was spread out over a couple of years, and it’s been in use for around 18 months.”

Rick, a customer at the pub for 40 years before taking it on with Bev, as their first business venture, said: “She wasn’t too happy while the work was being done, but it’s been worth it, and the pitch has already paid for itself through the increased trade we’ve enjoyed on the back of the clubs using it.”

Trade increases by some 25% when the pitch is in use, said Rick.

Free to use

The pitch is free to use, and the couple now wants to encourage more local clubs and teams to come and use it.

On bank holidays, they host family fun days that include a barbecue and bouncy castle, and they have also just introduced two full-sized table tennis tables outside.

The Butterbowl is owned by NewRiver, which has 33 UK-wide shopping centres and 350 pubs, together with other nationwide retail and leisure assets.

David Shipton, asset development director for NewRiver’s pub portfolio, said: “Rick and Bev are among our very best publicans, and what they’ve done at the Butterbowl, for the benefit of the whole community, is nothing short of brilliant.”

As a result, NewRiver has paid for repairs, external decoration and new signage at the pub. 

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