RBL club forced to close due to mounting debts

Jim Eskdale felt positive about the Royal British Legion Club's future at the start of the year, but has now been told it must close for good
Jim Eskdale felt positive about the Royal British Legion Club's future at the start of the year, but has now been told it must close for good
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The chairman of Leyland’s Royal British Legion Club is ‘devastated’ after being forced to close the club permanently.

The club, on School Lane, Leyland, which has been open for more than 60 years, had previously been threatened with closure after building up £140,000 of debts, but a plan had been secured to save it from collapse.

Financial company Minotaur has been tying the social over and in January this year, chairman Jim Eskdale told the Guardian he had high hopes for a positive 2013 for the club.

But he has now been told by Minotaur that the club is no longer viable.

Plans were approved last year to reduce the club house in size to make way for seven homes and a corner shop to be built on the site, as a means of securing the social club’s long-term future.

Mr Eskdale was hopeful that the scheme would move forward this year, but has now said: “We were taken over by Minotaur who promised to pay the debts off if we sold some land, but at the moment they can’t find a buyer for the land.

“At one stage I was putting my own money into it, but I was advised to stop that.

“I am devastated, really.”

Mr Eskdale said many of the club’s members are upset about the closure and they are working to find new venues for the various societies that currently use the premises.

Glyn Jones, from Minotaur, said: “It is a sad day for everyone concerned. The club has failed to keep it viable.

“The membership voted to close as indeed they did two or three years ago. We have kept it going ever since.”

Rumours started circulating in January that the club was going bankrupt and on the brink of closure, but Mr Eskdale was quick to quash the hearsay.

He said member numbers were down because of the concerns about the club’s future, but said the bowling green was still popular.

It will close its doors for the final time on Sunday, May 5.