BUCKINGHAM Town will play football next season.
That is the defiant message from club chairman Vincent Hyde in the week his side were left without a home.
The club, which began life 128 years ago, has been in desperate talks with landowners The Sherm Group over the last fortnight.
But this week it learned it has to vacate its current ground at Ford Meadow by Friday, June 10, after attempts to negotiate an extension on its lease, which expired on Tuesday, failed.
Mr Hyde told the Advertiser he had offered Sherm £18,000 for one year’s rent with £6,000 up front.
But he said the group asked for £22,000 up front.
“The committee thought that was ridiculous,” he said.
But Mr Hyde remains confident the club will stay in business.
He said: “We’re not going to let 128 years go just because of a setback. If the worst happened, we’d go and play in a lower division and then build the club again.
“We will continue playing and we will be here next year.
“We’ve got one of the best gates in the United League and we take the best support with us. We’ve got to give our fans the best we can.”
The issue also spells trouble for Padbury Football Club, which used Ford Meadow as its home ground last season.
The club was promoted to the South Midlands Division One and will need to meet certain ground requirements to play in the higher league.
Padbury chairman Philip Smith said: “This comes as a devastating shock with little or no time to find alternative arrangements. We are working with the Buckingham Town officials to find a solution but time is not on our side.”
Managing director of Sherm, Elliot Sorsky, said in the past Buckingham Town had fallen into considerable rent arrears, forcing his company to forfeit its lease.
He said: “In order to provide time for the club to relocate, we permitted them to stay on the site for 12 months, which expired on May 31, 2011.
“It is regretful that they did not use that time to find an alternative location and seem to have assumed that the arrangement was not temporary.”
And he added: “While we appreciate this may be unpopular, it’s not for us as a private business, to provide charitable support when our experience has been that local stakeholders have not been prepared to contribute to the future of Buckingham Town FC.”
With one week to vacate the premises, Mr Hyde said he intends to concentrate on finding a new home for the club.
Buckingham have been given permission by the United Counties League to play on a ground below that league’s normal standards while they find a new one.
Mr Hyde said: “It’s been a debacle but I’ve come to the point now where the realisation is we need to move on. We need to find somewhere which is Buckingham Town, without a landlord which is threatening to chuck us out.
“I was really shocked and upset. I’ve been fighting for 10 or 11 days, but we’ve got to the point where there’s no point in fighting the inevitable.”
The club now needs to move 128 years of equipment, such as floodlights, out within the next week, and would welcome offers of help or storage.
It would also welcome suggestions as to any possible new football grounds, and also offers of legal expertise to scrutinise documents.
Anyone who can help the club can contact Mr Hyde on 07787 256899.