Worthing youth football club’s plans hindered by lack of funding

The chairman of a youth football club in Worthing feels his players and coaches have been forgotten by the council, with a lack of funding for new facilities.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 1:05 pm

Jason Nicholls, chairman of Worthing United Youth FC at Hill Barn and Rotary recreation grounds, said they have to get by with ‘inadequate facilities’, with no separate toilets or changing rooms for girls’ teams.

He said insult was added to injury when more than half-a-million-pounds was given to Worthing Town Football Club, for them to spend on new facilities, including a new 3G pitch and floodlighting.

However, Worthing Town had been given £340k in Section 106 funding — a contribution from the developer of a new housing estate in Durrington — which had to be put back into the local community.

DM21101190a.jpg. Worthing United Youth FC unhappy with lack of funding. Young players and coaches at Hill Barn recreation ground. Photo by Derek Martin Photography and Art SUS-211018-114729001

Mr Nicholls said: “We run a total of 32 teams for boys and girls within Worthing and have around 400 young footballers on our books.

“We are a completely voluntary organisation with no individual getting paid to carry out coaching or other tasks.

“Our facilities at Hill Barn include an old wooden clubhouse built in the 1950s and designed for men’s football with open congregational showers and no toilet or changing facilities for our girl footballers.

“We have argued about our poorly maintained facilities with Worthing Borough Council for several years. Sadly we have received zero financial support from anyone.”

DM21101192a.jpg. Worthing United Youth FC unhappy with lack of funding. Young players and coaches at Hill Barn recreation ground. Photo by Derek Martin Photography and Art SUS-211018-114751001

Mr Nicholls said that, from the club’s point of view, it was ‘very frustrating’ and ‘so disappointing’ to see a substantial sum of money spent at Palantine Park ‘on behalf of a similar sized club’. 

He added: “Daniel Humphreys [Worthing Borough Council leader] visited our club three years and saw the issues around the weekly vandalism and ASBO behaviour which occurs around our clubhouse.

“He also saw the lack of facilities of our girl footballers.

“Can Daniel please explain to our 400 young footballers living in Worthing why only one youth football club has received [significant] funding when the other youth football clubs have received zero funding?”

DM21101191a.jpg. Worthing United Youth FC unhappy with lack of funding. Young players and coaches at Hill Barn recreation ground. Photo by Derek Martin Photography and Art SUS-211018-114740001

Mr Humphreys said works were ongoing to support the club as well as ‘other clubs in Worthing’. 

Mr Humphreys stressed that the council does not have ‘unlimited funds’ so difficult choices had to be made.

He added: “Sometimes it’s successful but it’s a work in progress for others.” 

A spokesperson for Adur and Worthing Councils said that under the regulations related to the spending of s106 funds, this came from the West Durrington housing developer, ‘so had to be used in the vicinity of the development’.

However, the council said the money was ‘used as match funding’ from the Football Foundation for the developments.

A spokesperson added: “The West Durrington s106 was for the off site provision of a 3G pitch and the legal agreement specifically mentioned the money being spent at Palatine Park or Shaftesbury Avenue Leisure Centre as the two options closest to the strategic housing allocation at West Durrington. 

“As we had already replaced the 3G pitch at Shaftesbury Ave the money was directed to Palatine Park and it was used as match funding to secure further funding from the Football Foundation.”