THOUSANDS of Merseyside junior footballers were celebrating a major victory after council bosses rejected plans to raise pitch fees.
Under the controversial proposals, Sefton council had considered raising annual fees for under-11s from £180 per season to around £750 per season.
But following widespread criticism of the price hike, officials decided to shelve the increases.
Council leader Peter Dowd confirmed the rise was no longer an option.
He said: "After weighing things up and listening to what people had to say, we felt the disadvantages far outweighed the advantages and as a result we can now move forward."
The Labour-controlled council announced it would review the fees clubs pay to use its pitches in February as part of an effort to make budget cuts of £20m this year.
But it delayed the implementation of the proposals after amateur clubs voiced concerns over the rises, which could still affect adult teams using football, rugby and cricket pitches.
Fees for bowling greens and croquet lawns could also rise.
Cllr Dowd said: "People have to remember this is a warts-and-all budget and everybody has to see the warts.
"We cannot be scared about rattling cages and are not got to leave things out simply to allay people’s fears.
"Everything is in the public domain and we have to show everyone the savings we have got to make.
"People have to understand there are a lot of difficult decisions ahead."
At least 8,500 children gathered at Buckley Hill playing fields, in Netherton, earlier this month to voice their opposition to the plans, with hundreds of teams from across Merseyside supporting their rivals in Sefton by joining in a match boycott.
Liverpool FC legend Mark Lawrenson gave his support to the protests, labelling the fee increase proposals "ridiculous".
Football coach Kenny Saunders, who manages several teams at Woolton FC and helped organise the boycott, said: "This is brilliant news and I am more than over the moon but the fight goes on.
"The people of Liverpool have really got behind these protests and now I know I have an army out there willing to work free of charge and fight any future plans."