FOOTBALLERS across Oxford face having the final whistle blown on their season before all their matches are played.

Oxford City Council says it will not extend the deadline for the completion of fixtures, despite the record-breaking freeze in December which wiped out the majority of games.

The local leagues and council last summer agreed a deadline of April 20, but despite a backlog, the council has refused an extension so it can start renovating pitches for the summer when cricket is played.

Paul Lyon, fixture secretary from the Oxford Mail Boys’ League, said: “It’s ridiculous. We have already lost four complete weekends and there are school holidays at the start of April.

“This would mean our season would have to finish at the end of March, and there is no way that is possible.

“We would need a lot of midweek games, which can’t happen until the clocks go forward.

“If this continues, we will have a situation where we will have to reduce the size of our league, meaning less teams, and fewer children being able to play football.

“Even if we have no more bad weather this winter, we will still have at least 200 matches to play.

“It will mean that we’ll have to move games out of the city and games will have to be played at all sorts of times. It’s just a nightmare situation.”

Some of the pitches affected include Cutteslowe Park, Cowley Marsh, Court Place Farm, Sandy Lane, Horspath Road and Blackbird Leys.

Oxford City FC has one of the largest youth set-ups in the county, and play the majority of their games at Court Place Farm in Marsh Lane.

Managing director Colin Taylor admitted there was a backlog, but said they were doing all they could to finish by the deadline.

He said: “We’re trying to work around the problem by playing at different grounds around the city and squeezing as many matches in as we can.”

The cost of hiring a full-size pitch at Horspath is £14.47.

Clubs pay for pitches in advance and if matches are called off, they receive a credit on their account.

Jane Kenny, fixture secretary of the Oxfordshire Senior League, said she was surprised by the decision not to grant an extension.

She said: “The closure of pitches in April would cause a very real problem.”

Oxford City Council confirmed it would close pitches down on April 20.

A spokesman said: “During last summer we contacted all the local football leagues that use council-owned pitches to ask them when they wanted their seasons to start and finish.

“We are doing all we can to ensure that matches can take place, but we do have programme of renovation work to carry out on the pitches before the summer season starts.

“It’s important to stress though, we are not closing pitches early, we are closing them at the agreed time.”

With men’s teams also using council grounds, more than 500 players are likely to be affected across the city.