A youth football team has been left ‘bitterly disappointed’ after it was pipped at the post to moving to a new training ground in Crawley.
Ifield Galaxy FC said it had agreed to train at the former Edwards Sports and Social Club ground - now the site of the Sikh Gurdwara and Community Sport Centre - when it was announced that football giants Crawley Town would be using the site as their new training ground.
Ifield Galaxy chairman Mark Wright was given the red card after being involved in talks for months with the Sikh organisation.
He said he was about to formally sign the contract when he heard that Crawley Town were moving in.
“I’m bitterly disappointed,” he said. And so, he said, were more than 200 children at Ifield Galaxy.
He said the club had planned to take up residency at the site in Ifield Green this season for training and matches and provide coaching sessions for the Sikh children when they heard last week that the Crawley Town professionals were moving in.
“I had heard a couple of rumours they were speaking to Crawley Town but I assumed that was just talk.
“I had the contract - but no signature. Everything was agreed. Words were given, hands were shaken, everyone was happy.
“Then I heard they had an agreement with Crawley Town. It has all come to nothing.”
He said he understood that the Sikh organisation was “fully entitled to do as they please as the contract was not signed, but there was a lot of talk about building a community relationship.
“But they have done a deal behind my back.”
He said local residents were also upset as they had been keen to see the facility being used for grassroots youth football.
Crawley Town, which plans to start pre-season training at the Ifield ground later this month, declined to comment.
The club has already stated that it does not know how long it will be at the Ifield Green ground.
The Observer was unable to contact anyone from the Sikh Gurdwara and Community Sport Centre at the time of going to press.