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Old Barn Way football ground, Southwick - statement

Released: Friday, 21 August 2020

Adur District Council has committed to working with interested parties to ensure one of the oldest football grounds in Sussex can thrive for years to come.

The facility in Old Barn Way has been home to Southwick FC for many years with the site leased to various tenants during that time.

But, due to significant mismanagement issues and safety concerns, Adur District Council ended the agreement with the current leaseholder earlier this year.

Since then, a Southern Combination Football League representative has advised that the ground appeared a significant way off from meeting ground grading standards. A full inspection would only be undertaken when the building is safe to enter.

The Council is now looking to work with all interested parties to bring the facility back up to scratch and find a suitable tenant so that football can return to Old Barn Way as soon as possible.

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.

Standard electrical checks have not been completed, no fire safety measures were in place and tenants had also significantly breached repair obligations with water damage, broken roofs and unsafe block walls left untreated.

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

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.

With the ground deemed unsafe, the Council has stepped in and has vowed to work with all interested parties to ensure community football can return to the site as soon as is practicable.

A spokesman for the Council said:

“We recognise the key role that Southwick FC plays in the local community and understand the uncertainty this has caused. But we must act in the best interests of everyone to make sure Old Barn Way is placed on a sustainable footing moving forward.

“We do not underestimate the scale of the challenge and will need support to make the site safe, legal and compliant, while meeting relevant league standards for football to return. This is why we are committed to working with all parties moving forward.

“Be assured, football will always have a home at Old Barn Way which is why we are committed to exploring all avenues to ensure that the beautiful game can return to this historic venue as soon as possible.”

(PR20-096)

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