A FOOTBALL club is facing another fight to return to its traditional home.

Southwick 1882 FC were expected to return to their ground, Old Barn Way in Southwick, at the start of the next football season. The Wickers had been playing on Southwick Recreation Ground, on Croft Avenue, since March 2020 with the old ground needing improvements as the club reformed.

This was highly anticipated as the club just earned promotion from the Mid-Sussex League Championship to the Premier Division. The Wickers won every game they played this season and clinched the title with a 5-1 win over Mile Oak.

But there are now concerns that the ground will not be ready as more repairs are needed then were first envisioned.

The club is putting out a call for help from residents, either practical or financial.

But their focus is fixed on the local council. In their statement they say: “Our first approach must be to the Adur and Worthing Council.

“A week before the next local election, we draw the attention of the community to their neglectful attitude throughout this whole saga.”

Adur and Worthing Council have said that they were already fully aware of the amount of work required to repair the ground.

The council is however “totally committed” to turning the facility into something that the community can be proud off.

The Argus: The ground in in need of repair.The ground in in need of repair.

A spokesman for Adur District Council said, "We and the Russell Martin Foundation were fully aware of the amount of work that is needed to bring this ground up to scratch before we signed the lease over.

"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."

The new leaseholders for the ground require more money than the original grant Worthing and Adur council granted them.

The original grant was for a sum of £50,000, which with further investigations by the Russell Martin Foundation will not be enough to carry out the required repairs by the start of next season.

The Argus: Southwick 1882 FC Southwick 1882 FC

The Russell Martin Foundation found the ground was in a much worse state than predicted by Southwick 1882 FC.

The clubhouse consists of asbestos and water damage that is so bad leaseholders have been advised that Legionnaire’s disease could be a hazard.

There is also a considerable amount of rubble and fencing that needs to be replaced as well as part of the enclosing wall that is falling down.

The pitch that has been managed by the Russell Martin Foundation, has been found to be in good condition.

Dr Alan Sanders, chief executive of Russell Martin Foundation, said: “Adur District Council and Russell Martin Foundation have confirmed that they see the re-development of Old Barn Way as high priority.

“They have agreed to be very pro-active in creating a football facility that the local community can be proud of.

"This is great news for all concerned, as the challenges ahead will need everyone working closely together to achieve our collective ambition.”

The Russell Martin Foundation is a Southwick-based not-for-profit organisation which uses the power of football to help change people’s lives.

It is backed by the former Norwich City and Rangers defender, from Brighton, who is now manager of MK Dons.