Enfield Council has admitted letters sent to sports teams in the north London borough warning players they could be prosecuted for spitting was "overzealous". Last month Winchmore Hill FC revealed its players were warned about the new bye-law by which people caught spitting in public in Enfield could face prosecution and fines of up to £500, which came into effect on 8 December. But the council now says the letter was "overzealous in tone".
The football club received a letter from the council, dated 24 December,
which said 'the bye-law does provide authorised officers with the powers to
prosecute those witnessed spitting'. "Please cascade this information to your players and those of the opposition
team to avoid the risk of prosecution," it added.
But now the cabinet member for environment, Councillor Chris Bond, said the
local authority would clarify its position and that 'there is no intention to
prosecute anyone playing football, or doing other exercise, on our sports
grounds'. "The bye-law gives the council discretion over to how it is enforced and
we'll be using common sense in enforcing it. The original letter was intended to be a polite request asking footballers
not to spit because it's a revolting habit, but was overzealous in tone and did
not reflect the spirit of the bye-law."
Frank Randall, manager of Winchmore Hill Football Club's Vets team, said: "I
think it's almost impossible to play football without some saliva coming to your
mouth ... we are not spitting at someone, it's just that you have to release it
because the mouth gets very very dry. I certainly support non-spitting but in a football arena it's almost