MINDLESS thugs are threatening the future of a community football club after repeatedly wrecking the grounds, causing thousands of pounds of damage.
A relentless campaign of vandalism by hooligans has left Paulsgrove Football Club at breaking point, with club bosses saying the team could wind up all together because of it.
Over the past few years, thugs have ripped up the club’s dugouts, torn down barriers and sprayed vile obscenities on walls of the group’s changing rooms.
And councillors fear the impact could be devastating for youngsters in Paulsgrove if the Marsden Road club closes, ending its 52-year history.
Paulsgrove has six teams, from its first XI in the Hampshire Premier League, to junior level.
Club secretary Jim Garcia, 66, said the club has had to fork out at least £5,000 to repair the damage, with the latest attack taking place this month.
It would be disastrous if the club closedCllr Stuart Potter, Paulsgrove councillor
He said: ‘This is just soul-destroying.
‘I am finally considering giving up on the club. We all feel the same. The club could close because of the vandalism.
‘We’re trying to build something like Portchester has got or Moneyfields or Baffins has got. People are just wrecking this, though.’
Navy veteran Mr Garcia said police were looking into the attacks.
He added it wasn’t just vandals damaging the Hampshire Premier League club.
He suspected youths were also taking drugs on the pitch.
‘I’ve found drug wraps in the dugouts. It’s disgusting,’ said Mr Garcia.
Ukip Paulsgrove councillor Stuart Potter was horrified by the abuse.
He feared for the club’s future – and the impact on Paulsgrove’s young people – if something was not done to stop the vandalism. ‘What these thugs are doing is just mindless,’ he told The News.
‘It would be disastrous if the club closed. The youngsters who love football won’t have anything to do.
‘Paulsgrove Football Club is a proving ground for kids who could end up one day playing in the Premier League.’
In a final effort to save the club Mr Garcia said the group is applying for planning permission from the city council to build a new security fence.
Labour leader and Paulsgrove councillor John Ferrett is supporting this bid and is working with the council’s culture, leisure and sports boss, councillor Linda Symes to make it happen.
Cllr Ferrett said: ‘Jim is a hero. He has given his heart and soul to that club for many years. It’s right we as a council and I as a local politician help him.’
A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said the force ‘was aware’ of the attacks. The last took place between August 6 and 9. Vandals damaged rails and sprayed ‘Foxy Bingo’ on newly-painted dugouts.
The source added police were ‘considering’ stepping up patrols and would be ‘talking to Paulsgrove’s management’.