Another One Bites the Dust

I recently had an update on the situation at David Lloyd Hampton, where I helped promote the members’ campaign against squash court closures.

After the successful introduction of a Blaze programme at some David Lloyd sites, management is planning a rollout across the UK.

At a time when enterprises are looking to increase revenues by cutting costs and maximising resources, the cheapest option is to use/convert existing facilities.

Squash is never going to figure highly when accountants start to do their sums as there is a limit to the number of participants you can engage on a court.

Squash membership at any David Lloyd centre probably accounts for a small portion of its profits and the sport will always fare second best if development decisions are made purely for financial reasons.

That said, England Squash have been working in partnership with David Lloyd across 20 sites. The results have been positive and there is an offer to extend this across all sites.

Despite the numerous benefits squash brings to a club, management have decided that some/all of the squash courts at some sites will house Blaze studios.

The members of David Lloyd Hampton started a petition in August when that site looked like being part of the cull. In a move reminiscent of the aerobics craze in the eighties, two of the four courts were ultimately sacrificed.

Courtesy of Julia Whitehead

While those behind the campaign knew they faced an uphill struggle, the global squash community are famously passionate about their sport. The petition’s 418 signatories came from such far flung places as America, Trinidad and Tobago, Cayman Islands, Ecuador, China and India – and all credit to those who signed up.

What now for the squash members at Hampton? At one stage there were five teams - two ladies’ and three mens’. The court closures have left the club with just a single ladies’ team.

David Lloyd’s loss has benefited surrounding clubs. The Lensbury was accommodating and attracted around 25 new members. Other clubs to profit include Sheen, Meadhurst, Sandown Park, Richmond Olympus, Surrey Sports Park and Charring Cross.

While many of these only have two courts themselves, the departing David Lloyd members were angry at how the whole process was handled and ultimately voted with their feet. With a small number of internal box leagues with five players in each, there are barely 30 active members.

With membership costing £130 per month, the loss of at least half its members amounts to approximately £60,000 on an annual basis. That’s petty cash for a leisure company with 112 premier gyms and fitness clubs across Europe, but when added to monies accrued from additional spending it would go a long way in the development of our small sport.