Who turned out the lights?

Time to go: Jim Booth, Paul Bamber, Jonathan Hale and Richard Postill
Time to go: Jim Booth, Paul Bamber, Jonathan Hale and Richard Postill

A crucial end-of-season squash tournament descended into outrage when bosses at Leyland Leisure Centre turned the lights off in the middle of a match.

The five players from Leyland Squash Team were involved in a nail-biting battle when the lights suddenly went out and the players were told to leave - because caretakers said the centre had to close at 10pm.

Members at the team have been left furious and have demanded an apology from the centre for humiliating them in front of fellow North West Counties Squash League teams.

Jim Booth, 43, was playing in the fifth of the five games and was 2-0 up when the court went dark.

He said: “I was playing someone from Manchester and was winning when they came in and said we would have to stop playing.

“I told them we were in the middle of the match but they said they had to shut. It was so embarrassing.

“This was one of the most important matches we have played all season and my match was declared void and I lost even though I was winning.”

The team was down three games to one and would have lost the overall match regardless of the outcome, but Jim says the ordeal has left them wanting to go elsewhere.

Jim, who has been playing the sport for 30 years, said: “It’s the principle of the matter. It would never happen if Leyland were playing a football match. It’s like turning the floodlights off five minutes before the end of a game.

“This is not just a social game - we represent Leyland in what we do. It might not be as a big a deal to people as football or cricket but we represent the town.

“We play three or four times a week and it is a very big deal for us. We had quite a lot of people coming to watch as it was a play-off.

“It is almost laughable what they have done. If the game was at 2-2 and it was a decider they would have had to call the police. There is no way we would have moved.”

The team had a successful season in the league and were promoted from third division to second - a feat they haven’t been able to achieve in over 10 years.

But the players say the news has been dampened by the disappointing end to the tournament on Thursday.

Jim said: “The leisure centre has got no idea of what the event was and the importance of it to Leyland.

“We were thrilled to get promoted but this is just a humiliating end to a glorious season. We are livid.”

Mark Snaylam, contract manager at Leyland Leisure Centre, said: “The lights did get turned off and we don’t dispute that, but it was at 10.10pm and after the duty manager had spoken to the team.

“The centre does shut at 10pm and we can’t stay open indefinitely. We do try and work quite closely with the squash team and I am disappointed they didn’t speak to us about this first.

“It was an important match and I think on this case there was a breakdown in communication.

“We did offer the stay open later but it would have meant the teams would have to forgo their showers, which they did not want to do.”