Football club in Lyng, near Dereham, folds over changing rooms change of heart

Lyng United Football Club has folded because of a lack of changing facilities. Pictured at the front

Lyng United Football Club has folded because of a lack of changing facilities. Pictured at the front is Gavin Hunt with (back row - from left) Lewis Warnes, Lewis Render and Andy Curtis. Front row (from left) Brian Long, Johnny Harrington and Andrew Stevenson. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A village football club has folded just over two season after it reformed, blaming a 'disappointing' decision over the provision of changing facilities.

Lyng United FC was enjoying success in the North East Norfolk League Division One and was hoping to progress through to the Anglian Combination League.

The club also felt assured that a planned new community hall, in the rural village near Dereham, would provide new changing facilities so it could move up through the leagues and also introduce youth and ladies' football.

But when the village hall committee submitted its latest Big Lottery fund for a grant, club officers were shocked to discover that there were now no changing facilities in the new plans at all.

Secretary Andrew Stevenson said: 'There has been a lull in people's interest because they realise there is no future for the club and they have lost motivation.

'We were dead keen to make it a success, not just for us but for everyone in the village. I understand they have to make a decision what to spend the money on but it is disappointing for us as it is right next to the playing field.'

Andrew Blencowe, the project leader for Lyng's new community hall, said they simply couldn't justify the cost of changing facilities for a relatively small number of people.

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He said: 'Earlier versions of the plans for the hall did include changing rooms within the design, and we'd hoped very much that they would one day become a reality.

'However, as part of an extremely arduous lottery funding application process we've had to seriously re-evaluate our wish-list for the hall, and really have a close look at what the community has told us that it wants.

'To include suitable changing rooms for a league football club within the design of the hall would add somewhere in the region of £100,000 to the cost of the build – extra money that the village would have to raise itself as the lottery grant we're hoping for won't cover the full cost of the project.

'Even though we do understand that to those people it matters a great deal, we've very reluctantly concluded that we simply can't justify the extra cost to the community or the project.'

He said the committee has offered to help find a suitable alternative such as a separate changing block.

He added: 'We're genuinely sorry for any upset that the removal of the changing rooms from the plans has caused, but unless we can build a hall we can afford then unfortunately there will be no village hall at all.'

Victoria Hunt, landlady of The Fox in Lyng which has been sponsoring the team, said she was 'extremely disappointed' that the football club's needs had been dismissed.

'Without changing rooms in the plans for the new village hall, the only regular users of the village hall now have to cease their usage.

'This decision means the village has lost a community interest and the businesses within it - ourselves, the village shop and petrol station also lose out on the additional custom the teams bring in.'

* Do you think the club should have changing rooms? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk.

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