DELIGHTED badminton players have found a new home just weeks before they were due to lose their long-standing club night at Knutsford Leisure Centre.

Knutsford Badminton Club had played at the leisure centre on a Sunday from 7pm to 9pm for about 35 years.

It faced having to find another slot at the centre or somewhere else to play because of proposed earlier Sunday closing from next month, and has found a new home on a Sunday evening at Egerton Youth Club.

From October 1 the leisure centre is due to close at 8pm on a Sunday, two hours earlier than currently, after centre bosses reviewed when people used the facilities. The centre is run by Everybody Sport and Recreation.

A spokesman said: “Knutsford Leisure Centre has recently reviewed customer usage patterns, and after identifying heavily under-utilised times we have made the decision to close the facility earlier on a Sunday evening.

“The centre’s opening times have actually been extended by 5.5 hours per week due to the introduction of earlier opening times from 7.30am to 6am, where there was seen to be more of a demand from customers.

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“The new opening times are now consistent with other facilities across Everybody Sport and Recreation, and all affected clubs/users were contacted in advance and have been offered alternative days/times.”

Badminton club treasurer Tom Weston said the club was given just six weeks’ notice to vacate its 7pm to 9pm slot and find another slot or another venue.

He felt the move to shut earlier on Sunday was not justified in view of the groups which used the centre during the evening, and believed the decision was based on cutting costs.

He said: “We have about 20 members who played regularly on three courts, and paid in the region of £3,000 per year to the leisure centre for court hire.

“We had arranged the coming season’s league matches, many of which were scheduled to be played on Sunday evening from 7pm.

“On a Sunday there are people swimming in the pool, football is played from 6pm to 7pm, badminton from 7pm to 9pm and football again from 9pm to 10pm.

“However the leisure centre say the facility us under-utilised, and therefore it will close at 8pm on Sunday from October 1. Basically the centre does not care that it is turfing us out.”

He said members greeted news of the planned earlier closing time on Sunday with a mixture of ‘anger, frustration and disbelief’, and the club decided to seek another venue for the Sunday night session because of the unsuitability of other slots at the leisure centre.

Tom added: “Egerton Youth Club was very accommodating to us, and we were very lucky to find another venue.”