MORTON are threatening to quit Inverclyde as their training base after losing £85,000 worth of funding from the Scottish Football Association.

Cappielow chiefs claim that grants from the SFA's youth football initiative, 'Project Brave', have been cut because the synthetic pitches used by the first team and academy sides do not meet certain criteria from the national governing body.

Morton use public facilities for training and matches and have specifically highlighted Parklea in Port Glasgow, where the men's senior squad train during the week, as a cause for concern.

Ton chiefs say they will have to look elsewhere for suitable facilities if the council and partners Inverclyde Leisure do not spend money upgrading municipal playing surfaces, adding that the loss of the SFA funding leaves a 'huge gaping hole' in the club's finances amid cost-cutting at Cappielow.

But officials from the local authority, which also has to save cash, insist their pitches are safe and 'meet appropriate guidelines' following recent inspections.

Morton say they pay £160,000 annually to use municipal facilities but could now take their players to Renfrewshire or North Ayrshire after losing the first of two £42k grants paid to the club each year for its involvement in 'Project Brave'.

Alex Gray, a club director, said: "We would urge all parents to urgently lobby their councillors to put pressure on the council to get these pitches brought up to the required specification, which would not only benefit Morton but all the junior clubs and grassroots football.

"If these issues can't be satisfactorily solved - and the clock is ticking - the unthinkable will happen in that we will have to look at Renfrewshire or North Ayrshire to train and that would be a travesty.

"In our endeavours to resolve this situation, we have held meetings with Inverclyde Leisure, the SFA and councillors.

"The club has been liaising with Inverclyde Leisure and Inverclyde Council since Project Brave began and that was four years ago."

Morton claim the artificial pitch at Parklea has not been upgraded since the community facility, also home to Port Glasgow Juniors and various local sports clubs, opened in 2012 at a cost of £6 million.

The playing surface was described at the time as 'one of the best in Scotland'.

Derek Anderson, Morton's director of youth, said: "I've personally been trying to resolve the matter for the last year and, prior to that, Warren Hawke was dealing with the issue."

New artificial pitches can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds each but the local authority, which has just increased council tax by three per cent to help plug a £2m funding gap over the next year, insists public pitches are in good order and maintained.

A spokesperson for Inverclyde Council said: "All of our football pitches have recently been inspected. "We are confident that they are safe and meet the appropriate standards. "We have a strategy for maintaining and upgrading our pitches and we are consulting with our customers to make sure that the pitches we provide meet their needs."