Enfield Council admits spitting on field threat was 'overzealous'
- 19 January 2014
- From the section London
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 had been warned about the new bye-law which came into effect on 8 December.
But the council now says the letter was "overzealous in tone".
The club said spitting was "a natural reaction" for footballers.
People who are caught spitting in public in Enfield could face prosecution and fines of up to £500.
The football club received a circular 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.
'Overzealous in tone'
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 impossible".
Enfield North MP Nick De Bois said it was right to "try and control this behaviour on the streets but it's completely missing the target to start writing letters that are effectively threatening amateur footballers".
In 2013, Waltham Forest Council also introduced fixed penalty notices of £80 for those caught spitting.