KILWINNING Sports Club is under threat of closure after staff were told there is no money to pay their wages next month.

The shock news was delivered to devastated staff this week after revelations that the club has struggled for months to make ends meet.

The Herald can reveal that the club’s finances are so dire that voluntary trustees have been paying bills with their own personal credit cards, just to ensure staff received wages for months.

However with cash-flow at an all-time low and pressures from competitors, the club – which started out as the dream of two Kilwinning men, Jim Hodge and Jim McCubbin – might have to close its doors.

Club Secretary and Director Jim Hodge said: “I have had to deliver the news to staff and watch employees in tears because of this situation. It’s not a very nice thing to do.

“The simple reason is we just aren’t bringing in enough money.

“We are competing with the likes of KA Leisure, who have opened similar facilities within a mile or two of us, but we simply can’t compete with their prices.

“I have asked the council if we could have a minimum pricing scheme where we all charge the same price for the same facility and people can decide fairly where they want to go, but that hasn’t happened.

“I’m not blaming KA Leisure, they provide a great service but we are a community sport club, we are essentially a charity and we rely solely on revenue to run the place.

“If we take £10 through the door, £2 of that is going to the VAT man, so already we are at a loss. With the likes of KA Leisure, they don’t have that because they are a council service so they don’t pay VAT. These are the things that maybe the public don’t know we are up against.”

Jim, who has worked for the Sports Club on a voluntary basis for almost 20 years, says he still hopes to save the club and will meet with North Ayrshire Council bosses next week to discuss its future.

He said: “We have a meeting next week with North Ayrshire Council to discuss the future of the club. We just hope they can offer us a lifeline.”

Kilwinning Sports Club currently has around 1,500 members. By comparison over the past six years, KA Leisure membership levels have risen from 1,546 in 2011/12 to 9,208 in 2016/17, an increase of 496 percent.

Colin Hunter, Sports Development manager at the club, was close to tears when speaking to the Herald about the cash crisis.

He said: “When you get news like that you immediately think of your own position, but the impact losing this club would have on this community would be absolutely devastating.

“We have been here since 2000 and since then the volunteers like Jim have worked and shed blood sweat and tears to make this place work. I feel devastated for them.

“We have had problems in the past, although nothing this bad, and the community has always come out to support us. We are hoping that happens again.”

Council leader Joe Cullinane, who lives in Pennyburn near the club, said it would devastate the community to lose the facility.

He said: “If Kilwinning Sports Club was to close it would be devastating, not only for the town but for everyone in North Ayrshire who use the facility. If you look at the facility just for football alone it is absolutely fantastic and especially when you think how it has grown from those early stages and transformed football in this community. It is probably the best facility in the country in that respect and that’s down to people like Jim who have worked tirelessly and voluntary for years in the community.

“We would not want to see the club close, absolutely not so we will have to meet with the Sports Club and see what we can do.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said “We continue to support local community organisations across North Ayrshire. We are discussing the financial issues that have emerged at Kilwinning Sports Club in recent days and will continue to support and assist them in any way we can.”

You can help to support the club by donating to their crowdfunder here.