Horsham Football Club fans have accused councillors of being ‘out of touch’ while warning its decision to refuse permission for a new ground could be the ‘nail in the coffin’ for the Hornets.
Some were in the Horsham District Council chamber on Tuesday night (January 20) seeing the debate unfold as members came to their vote.
Managers left determined to fight on.
Horsham FC chairman Kevin Borrett said: “The club is extremely disappointed by the decision taken tonight in respect of Hop Oast.
‘‘Our view was that it was seven years of painstaking work that we have put into this application and we think it is a suitable and sustainable place and merited support from the council.
“We had no statutory objections to the proposals. In addition we have had an officer’s recommendation in favour. It’s extremely disappointing.
“That clearly creates considerable uncertainty for Horsham FC and for our tenant the Holbrook Club because of the 25 years lease we were going to offer them subject to approval of both.”
He has since said the club was considering an appeal.
In the chamber, fan of 22 years Mark Barrett said: “I’m thoroughly disappointed.
“The proposal would have been a fantastic community facility. It would have benefitted all.
“It’s going to be very difficult to find another place within Horsham.”
Life president Frank King said: “I’m bitterly disappointed. I feel sorry for John (Lines- manager) and Kevin (Borrett) for the amount of hours they have put in. It’s all voluntary.
“I’m disappointed, that’s all I can say. We need to find a site and I thought this was the ideal site.”
Fans meanwhile took to Twitter and Facebook to criticise the council’s decision.
On the County Times Facebook page Garry Commins said: “If it was for housing or for the destruction of a town landmark it would have sailed through, absolutely disgraceful treatment of a town treasure.”
Paul Ockenden wrote: “Councillors overturn the recommendations of a professional planning officer and sign the death warrant of the town’s historic football club.”
Writing to the County Times Matt Haynes, of Hillside, said: “Well done Horsham DC for putting another nail in the coffin of Horsham FC. So we can’t build a new ground in a residential area and we can’t build on the edge of town.
“I’m sure if we tried to build a ground on the moon you’d find a way of rejecting it!
“So much talk about supporting the club but for years we’ve had no support at all.
“The frankly pathetic excuses for rejecting the proposals show just how out of touch this council is and hopefully some of them will no longer be representing our town in a few months time.
“The football club has been an asset to the town for 134 years but thanks to the council I fear it’s time is near an end now.”
Councillors were also disappointed. Roy Cornell (Con, Roffey South) left the meeting early, just after the vote.
He said: “I’m leaving in disgust. I’m disgusted with the committee on that.”
Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest) said: “The club needs a new ground. I’m very disappointed.
“We have got councillors who think Horsham can go somewhere else, but no-one knows of anywhere they can go. They have tried everywhere.”