Spixworth FC claims it was “forced out” of village by parish council
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A football team's landmark promotion is today overshadowed by a fallout with their landlords that has left them hunting for a new home.
Spixworth FC are top of the Anglian Combination Premier and on the brink of having their place in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League confirmed.
But, having spent eight years playing next to Spixworth Village Hall on Crostwick Lane, club officials claim they are being 'forced out' by Spixworth Parish Council.
They are now hoping to move to the Football Development Centre at Bowthorpe, where the facilities meet the standards for the Eastern Counties League.
Middy Brown, the club's former first team manager and committee member, said: 'They don't want the club there. That is the bottom line.
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'They have taken all the hard work that has been put in by the club and have handed it others.'
In February the club received a letter from the council stating it could no longer use the playing fields from next season.
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Instead, the council said the pitches would be used by the village youth teams.
It came after Spixworth FC said it had offered to invest around £100,000 upgrading its pitch at the village hall.
It had proposed to install floodlights and a spectator stand, which would allow it to progress into the higher league.
First team manager Mark Collinson said the club had also offered the youth teams the chance to use the facilities.
A club spokesman for Spixworth FC said: 'I would say we have been forced out to accommodate the youth football club.
'There is a huge conflict of interest with certain councillors being involved in youth football club.'
In a statement, the parish council said it did not have the power to permit the 'extensive development' of the playing fields.
It added: 'Spixworth Parish Council are pleased to see the way Spixworth Football Club has developed over the years with the support we have given them, including building and maintaining changing rooms
and shower facilities for their use.'
The council said following the club's departure it has been 'forced to consider new ways' to maintain income for the village hall.
'[The council] is pleased to say that is under negotiation,' it said.
What next for Spixworth FC?
The club said it had spent £6,000 during the preseason of 2015/16 on new dugouts and one side of a pitch barrier.
But it said that will now have to be demolished when it leaves.
It is also having to sell off its goals, which come with box nets and support posts for £1,000, its fully-furnished tea hut for £1,000, and a 8ft by 40ft storage container, also for £1,000.
The club is hoping to move to the Football Development Centre in Bowthorpe next season.
Should it be successful, it is likely that it will be accepted into the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League.
But it will not have confirmation until May 6, according to the club's chairman Clive Cook.
Spixworth FC started its life as Norwich Union and played at Pinebanks in Thorpe St Andrew until 2008.
It spent one year at the town's Fitzmaurice Park under the name of AFC Norwich, before moving to Spixworth.
The impact on Spixworth Social Club
It is not just Spixworth FC fans who will suffer following the club's departure from the village.
Spixworth Social Club, which is based at the village hall, is anticipating a drop in revenue when the team leaves.
Chairman Neil Hastings said: 'It won't be the final nail [in the coffin] for us, but we will certainly miss the revenue.
'If it was a big game, the bar would be full for a few hours afterwards and we would get around £500 to £600 from that.
'It's a shame for the village that the club is going.'
The football team's departure comes just months after the social club faced an equally uncertain future.
In September last year there were fears that it might have to fold due to a drop in earnings.
But Mr Hastings said things had started to improve in the new year.
He added: 'We have had quite a few new members join.'