CHARD Town Football Club has called for support for a new football stadium bid - and revealed the club has already missed out on up to £80,000 as it awaits the results of a year-long planning process.

The lost money comes from the Premier League’s Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

The maximum grant available dropped from £100,000 to £20,000 when the club was kicked out of the Western League Division 1 last year into the tier below, the Somerset County Premier League.

Moving down in the football hierarchy also saw the manager and a number of players move on to pastures new, and Chard Town is now at risk of back-to-back demotions, sitting third from bottom.

If they are relegated again at the end of this season they can not apply for the remaining £20,000.

A spokesman for the club said: “The urgent need for Chard Town to invest in new playing facilities has never been greater.

“There is strong support for the new facilities, supported by a petition over 600 members and supporters signatures, which has been presented to the council.

“Furthermore, all the key regional sports and football organisations have leant their weight to the proposals: Somerset FA, Sport England, and the Football Foundation.”

Chard Town FC has been trying to relocate for 30 years.

The need for a new ground became more urgent in 2016, when the Football Association threatened to kick them out of the league because of the 12 foot slope in their current pitch - and the deadline was set at March 31, 2019.

In response, on Christmas Eve 2018, plans for a new ground and two other football pitches were submitted, as part of an application for 295 houses at Mount Hindrance.

Because the agent, D2 Planning Limited, entered the bid during the festive break, it was not formally acknowledged by South Somerset District Council until January 14, less than three months before Chard Town’s time was up.

Consultants such as the flood authority and environmental experts submitted reports, with the county highways authority dissatisfied with the plans.

Further discussions were needed with the applicant, said Highways, and it was while these were taking place that the FA ran out of patience.

Keeping their word, in May they announced that Chard Town had been relegated.

It wasn’t until November 2019 before the stadium plans even reached district councillors.

There was another month delay as photos of the site were a decade out of date. When the bid came back for a decision in December it was rejected, with Chard’s mayor having the casting vote.

Now the plan goes to SSDC’s Regulation Committee.

It is one last chance for the hundreds who support the football club’s bid, but one last obstacle for the hundreds who opposed the 295 homes.

The regulation committee’s January meeting was cancelled, and so the final decision has been pushed back again - now set to take place on February 18.

Chard Town Football Club director, Mike Hone, said: “The delay is frustrating and is now impacting on the club’s performance both on and off the field.

“The application was submitted in late 2018 and we are still awaiting a decision.

“Importantly, if and when built, these will be the first additional football pitches to be provided in Chard for more than 50 years.

“We hope that the regulation committee will see the benefits of a new stadium and playing facilities, not just for the club but for the wider community as the development has two public pitches.

“We know people want to watch and get involved with Chard Town playing at a higher level, which the current facilities don’t allow.”

The next SSDC Regulation Committee meeting is set to take place from 10am on February 18, at SSDC’s Yeovil HQ, in Brympton Way.

The agenda is not published until around a week before.