A plan for five new artificial grass football pitches in Wirral is being driven forward, as the local authority admitted demand far exceeds supply.

Wirral Council’s report said 22 more pitches are needed in the borough to address the shortfall.

Last night’s meeting of the council’s tourism and leisure committee agreed that as well as football clubs and schools, the local authority would contribute towards bridging the gap.

The plans are at an early stage and funding has not yet been secured, but the two most advanced proposals are for pitches at Woodchurch Leisure Centre and Wirral Tennis Centre in Bidston.

After that, Wirral Council is also pushing ahead with plans at sites in Leasowe, Arrowe Park and Bromborough.

Each facility is expected to cost around £1.3m, with the Football Foundation putting in £1.04m and the council footing the £260,000 remainder of the bill.

But the pitches are predicted to make between £50,000 and £100,000 per year for the local authority in income from bookings, more than covering the £35,000 annual cost of each pitch.

Paul Hurst, Wirral Council’s commercial and business development officer, said football pitches and other sports centres are hugely beneficial to the health and wellbeing of the borough.

Mr Hurst added that deprivation figures show football drives social mobility, reduces anti-social behaviour and improves people’s physical health.

Playing football also helps people to maintain a healthy heart and bone structure through exercising the body’s muscles.

Labour councillor Paul Stuart wanted clarification that even in a worst case scenario the football pitches would cover their costs.

In good news for those hoping to take advantage of the facilities, Mr Hurst confirmed that they would.

Conservative councillor Tom Anderson asked how is the council supporting those who want to develop their own sports facilities?

Mr Hurst said that while the demand for pitches is clear, people wanted advice on how to secure funding to make their projects happen.

He added that the council is helping interested parties to do this.