ELECTRONIC scoreboards, a new pitch and ever expanding leagues are among the dreams PlayFootball York have for the future as they prepare to celebrate their third birthday.

The Clifton Moor venue, which has been open since March 2008, hopes a surge in sides taking part in five, six and seven-a-side games on the 3G pitches can provide an opportunity for further investment.

Chief among their plans are electronic scoreboards for each of the pitches, which would be updated by referees via remote controls, while general manager Oliver Hurd is hoping a new pitch could also provide a boost for the 166 teams which play in leagues at the Stirling Road centre, along with the growing number of casual bookings.

Hurd is also noticing the growing move away from traditional 11-a-side games towards smaller size matches – mirroring the national trend which has suggested a recent decline.

Football Association research has shown 1.4 million players had lapsed and wanted to return to the game but struggled to commit to 11-a-side football at weekends.

“We have the highest number of league teams since we opened – 166 – and things are going very well,” Hurd said. “When we opened five-a-side was definitely the dominant game, without a shadow of a doubt.

“Now the trend is towards six-a-side. That’s something we’ve identified that we need to keep building. Five-a-side has definitely dropped. It seems to be six and seven-a-side that people want. It’s a bigger pitch and more time.

“I’ve noticed the guys that play here, a lot of them don’t play 11s. The numbers, particularly in fives and sixes indicate (that people are playing that rather than 11-a-side).

“I can’t pin-point why that is. I love the 11s game but this trend shows there is obviously a breakdown of that. In York, with PlayFootball, I don’t think there has been this kind of set-up before.”

On possible plans for the future, Hurd added: “It’s a really good facility. There’s a proposal for electronic scoreboards on the pitches in the corners.

“When the referee is tallying the games, they will have a remote control in their pocket, can press a button and the score will go up. That would be quite nice. I know Liverpool have that and it is something we would really like to develop.

“I have asked for another pitch. It makes sense if you look at the numbers but we don’t want to take away too much from the five-a-side game.

“It allows us to have at least one more division.

“The pitches are booked out every night, all night and one thing we want to do is expand the leagues while putting the block bookings on a new surface.”