A REBORN football club fears it may never play at its home ground as a council has refused to guarantee its return.

Southwick FC is one of Sussex’s oldest teams, founded in 1882.

But in March Adur District Council terminated its lease of Old Barn Way with the club’s previous owners due to “significant mismanagement issues and safety concerns” requiring £500,000 in repairs, it said.

“Tenants had significantly breached repair obligations with water damage, broken roofs and unsafe block walls left untreated,” a council spokesman said.

In May a new set of directors founded Southwick Football Club Community Interest Company in a bid to take the historic club forward.

But in July the reborn Wickers said they were relegated two divisions by the FA as they had refused to take on debts from Southwick FC’s previous owners.

Now the club’s directors fear the team will never again play at Old Barn Way as the district council has not guaranteed its return.

Instead Southwick FC is currently plying its trade at Southwick Recreation Ground while it waits for the district council’s decision.

Four organisations are now vying for the lease of Old Barn Way.

But Southwick FC Community Interest director Tony Kybett says the district council needs to guarantee the club’s future at the ground regardless of the new leaseholder.

“They have not been willing to guarantee that Southwick Football Club are assured of a return to Old Barn Way,” he said.

“We hope we can rally round the residents.

“The last years have been really difficult but that era is now over. We will return to happier times as a member-owned community club.”

An Adur District Council spokesman told The Argus it wants to see football return to Old Barn Way as soon as possible.

But it said the ground is not fit for purpose and will need £500,000 in repairs.

“The lease with the tenant was ended in March after investigations showed the clubhouse and associated buildings have fallen into disrepair, becoming structurally unsound and not fit for purpose,” the spokesman said.

“Standard electrical checks have not been completed and no fire safety measures were in place. The council also reported a number of serious licensing breaches while the site had also been illegally sublet to a range of organisations by the tenant for profit.

“Further inspection has confirmed it will take approximately £500,000 of investment to bring these buildings back into use

“The council has vowed to work with all interested parties to ensure community football can return.

“Be assured, football will always have a home at Old Barn Way which is why we are committed to exploring all avenues.”

The Football Association did not respond for comment when contacted by The Argus.