FOOTBALL fans have reacted with dismay to news that Darlington Football Club is to close the sports centre at its Feethams ground.

Just 15 months ago, club chairman George Reynolds announced plans to invest £100,000 in the Quaker Sports Centre indoor sports hall, which he said would eventually be handed over to the town.

But last night it emerged the five-a-side centre will close on Sunday, although the club said it would stay open for Football in the Community schemes on Saturdays.

The news sparked rumours that the land on which the centre stands is earmarked for housing, and anger that teams using it are in the middle of their season and have paid registration fees.

Announcing the investment last year, Mr Reynolds said the Quaker Centre was "very well used", but support from the local community for the centre did not merit the amount of money spent on its upkeep.

"It is sad and we are all disappointed - the decision wasn't taken lightly," said club spokesman Luke Raine.

"We looked at other ways of running it, but it is just a pointless exercise."

Last night, critics maintained the centre made a profit.

"If George is so bothered about the local community, why upset the many football-mad lads who are in the leagues there?" said one.

The club said it would be interested to hear from anyone wishing to run the facility, and that staff would be transferred to other parts of the club.