A FOOTBALL club at the heart of a community has been forced to stop playing.

AFC Southwick began as Southwick FC in 1882, but folded in April 2020 after their home ground, Old Barn Way, fell into disrepair due to neglect.

The team rebranded as Southwick 1882 FC before the management and first team left to form AFC Southwick.

Southwick 1882 continued.

Whitehawk FC offered their pitch at the TerraPura stadium to the new AFC Southwick team, for a year.

But a year on, and still without a permanent home, meaning they were unable to secure sponsorships, AFC Southwick played their last game on Saturday, April 30.

The club feels that Old Barn Way been properly maintained, they would still be playing.

The Argus: Southwick AFC played their final game on SaturdaySouthwick AFC played their final game on Saturday

“The blame lies fairly and squarely with Adur District Council who allowed Old Barn Way, that has existed for decades, to crumble away,” said John Baine, PR and fundraising committee member for AFC Southwick.

“The villain here is the council. First and foremost, the council allowed this state of affairs to take place.

"We are absolutely gutted, but we are going out with our heads held high having done absolutely everything we could to save the club, and keep it alive."

The team had hoped to make a return to Old Barn Way on a permanent basis when new leaseholders, the Russell Martin Foundation, took on the ground to refurbish. But their hopes were once again dashed with the foundation’s desire to take the stadium in a community-led direction, rather than to have one flagship team.

Despite the bitter disappointment felt by all at AFC Southwick, as a true community team, they understand the new leaseholder’s decision.

The Argus: Southwick AFC were sharing Whitehawk FC's groundSouthwick AFC were sharing Whitehawk FC's ground

“I am fully aware that they came into this position having no previous involvement with football in Southwick, it was simply a facility that was crumbling that was available to be taken over,” said John.

“We had no moral authority to expect them to say yes, but what we thought was logically, it would be completely right for us to be the flagship club.

“We disagree with their decision, but I still believe absolutely that the development of that facility, which at the moment is an eyesore, is going to be a really good thing in providing local, community football.

“I don’t put the blame for the end of our club with Russell Martin. We did all we could.”

Adur District Council has been contacted for comment.