Devastated Wickers face long wait to return to their football home

Devastated Southwick 1882 FC have discovered they will have to wait an extra year – or possibly longer – for their grnd return to their spiritual home at Old Barn Way.

Pictures taken last month show the amount of work needed at Old Barn Way
Pictures taken last month show the amount of work needed at Old Barn Way

The amount of work needed at the run-down site is much greater than initially expected and the new leaseholders have had to revise their timetable for getting things up and running.

As reported, the Russell Martin Foundation are taking over the lease in a deal with Adur District Council in a move that will see Southwick's football club return to the home it has played at for many decades, but hopes of carrying out repairs to the clubhouse to get it in use and start to earn revenue have been dashed by confirmation it will have to de demolished and a new one built.

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The same goes for some of the structures around the pitch.

Old Barn Way has been neglected for a long time

RMF chief executive Alan Sanders said: “It was hoped we would be able to raise income from a variety of funding streams by using the clubhouse for various events as well as education and health programmes.

“Sadly we now know the clubhouse is not fit for purpose and needs to be demolished and so the proposed activities will not be able to take place until a new one is built.”

Most of a £50,000 sum allocated by the council will go on the demolition.

Equally, hopes they could repair a wall, clear rubble, relay a concrete path, replace iron railings and prepare the pitch so football could resume this September have also been dashed. Much of it needs replacing and repairs to the pitch surroundings alone is more than £50,000.

Sanders added: “Despite all of this we are clear we are still very keen to take on the lease and our enthusiasm for making this a facility that the local community can be proud of has not diminished.”

He said football was unlikely to be played at Old Barn Way until the 2022-23 season, or possibly even 2022-23.

Southwick 1882 chairman Tony Kybett said it was ‘devastating news’ so soon after the Wickers won the Mid Sussex League Championship to start their climb back up the non-league pyramid – a rise they can only go so far with before moving back to Old Barn Way.

A council spokesman said: “We and RMF were fully aware of the amount of work that is needed to bring this ground up to scratch... a recent survey has simply confirmed the work ahead. We remain totally committed to making this a community facility to be proud of once again.”