A LOTTERY-FUNDED sports club pavilion in Devizes is to be mothballed from October 31 after coronavirus hit the business for six.

Devizes Sports Club, which cost £1 million to build and opened in 2000, is to make five staff redundant.

Employees have been on furlough since lockdown in March but sports club chairman David Whatling said this week that four part-time bar staff and the centre manager were now to lose their jobs.

He said: “It is really sad but we have no choice. Our manager has been with us for 10 years and she has worked really hard to build up the event side of the business.

“But when lockdown came weddings, funeral wakes and everything else were cancelled. We held off making this decision for as long as we could but now realise it is the only way.

“The building will be maintained and we will be putting together a plan for how it can re-open. It is a real community asset in Devizes.”

He said if trading conditions improve a big fundraising effort will be needed to get cash to help pay for running costs.

Changing rooms have also been closed but separate toilet facilities have been made available for sports fixtures played under Covid-19 regulations.

In a letter to sports club members Mr Whatling said: “Covid-19 has been a large part of everyone’s life over the last six months, and it would seem that it will be for the foreseeable future.

“Because of that Devizes Sports Club can not earn its way at the moment with basically all activity precluded indoors due to restrictions, and the cost of running of the club means we have to take some action now to protect the future.

“Therefore we propose to ‘hibernate’ Devizes Sports Club until we can do two things. We need to formulate a business plan that covers the funding of the club over the next five years correctly and when the Covid-19 restrictions allow the club to function decide what the clubs purpose is and how to implement the new structure.”

The one exception to the closure will be Devizes Leg Club, which meets in the clubhouse on Thursday mornings. The group helps people with treatment for a wide range of leg problems and is also an opportunity for a social gathering for people who sometimes feel isolated.

Mr Whatling said: “We are very pleased that we are still going to be able to host the Leg Club in a Covid-safe way. We realise its importance.”