Burgess Hill Town face a race against time to make vital improvements to their ground in order to remain in the Ryman Premier League next season.
Mid Sussex’s highest ranked football club has been warned that failure to improve the facilities at Leylands Park could halt the side’s rapid progress up the leagues.
Less than a year ago, the team celebrated securing promotion to the Ryman Premier for the first time at the end of a campaign ranked among the greatest in club history.
Now, club directors are calling on their landlords, Mid Sussex District Council, to ensure their standing is maintained and the necessary upgrades are made.
General manager John Rattle outlined the Hillians’ position in a statement this week, in which he warned ‘the clock is ticking’.
He said: “We still need to make a couple of minor adjustments to the turnstile area and upgrade the signage around the ground.
“But the main requirement we have to meet is to provide a covered accommodation for 200 people in addition to the current Mansell McTaggart Stand that has a 307 people capacity.
“At the moment, we are waiting to hear from our landlords, Mid Sussex District Council, giving us permission to do the necessary works, as our lease provides that we cannot undertake these works without their consent.”
The Hillians appear destined for a mid-table finish, at worst, in their first year in the Ryman Premier.
It follows a triumphant season that captured the imagination of the town and saw local starlet Greg Luer earn a professional contract with Hull City.
Mr Rattle explained Burgess Hill chairman Kevin Newell has made progress in talks with the Ryman League, but needs to meet with the council as soon as possible.
He said: “Obviously we are very keen to do so, sooner rather than later, because the clock is ticking for us to complete all improvements required by the FA by March 31.
“The ideal situation would be that MSDC agree to the new covered facility and also increase the current lease to a minimum of ten years.
“We can then apply for funding via FA grant schemes available to clubs like ours who require to make ground improvements when they are promoted to a higher league.
“This process can take a minimum of eight weeks. We need to have dialogue with MSDC very soon.
“Kevin Newell and the BHTFC committee feel a town the size of Burgess Hill deserves a football team that can compete in a national football league – we hope our landlords do too.”
Pru Moore, Mid Sussex District Council’s cabinet member for leisure and sustainability, said: “Mid Sussex District Council is a supporter of Burgess Hill Town Football Club and we value their contribution to the Burgess Hill community.
“We are happy to meet with them as their landlord to discuss this proposed development and have advised the club to contact our planning team as this proposed new stand is likely to require planning permission.”
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