GREAT Harwood Town chairman Bill Holden admits the future looks bleak for the North West Counties club and they could go out of business in less than a month unless a big investor comes forward.
The Robins have been homeless since an arson attack at Monroes nightclub, which is next door to the Showground, destroyed the changing rooms and club house in January 2005.
The nightclub and the Showground have hardly been touched since then as Great Harwood lease the ground off Monroes owner Ian Jackson, who is still waiting for the finances to be finalised and is possibly looking to sell the land once everything is sorted out.
Harwood played last season's Division Two games at Accrington Stanley FC but, with the Reds returning to the Football League, Holden understands it will be a struggle to continue there. There is a North West Counties AGM next month and, if Harwood go there without a ground, Holden fears the worst.
"I am gutted with everything that has happened," said the chairman of 10 years. "I am devastated it has got to this stage.
"It looks like we won't be playing at Great Harwood next season and it is understandable that Accrington Stanley have their commitments and we won't be playing there.
"Stanley have been superb with us - from the chairman, Eric Whalley, to the people at the club. They were the only ones who came forward to offer us any help and, without them, we wouldn't have survived the last season.
"It is understandable that they have to look after their ground now that they are a league club and I want to thank them for all their help.
"But the bottom line is that, without a ground, there is no future.
"We have been ground sharing for 18 months and, although we are grateful, it is almost impossible to carry on like this anyway because it means we don't have our own income. We don't have any bar takings or cash flow."
There is a ray of hope that Jackson will sell Monroes and therefore the Showground and Harwood can return there - but it is only slight and it is not imminent.
"All we can hope now is that the ground is sold and the new owners give us a new lease," continued the chairman, with the club having three years left on their lease with the current owners.
"The problem is that we also can't apply to the Football Association for help. They only give money for ground development on leases with a minumum of 10 years as they want the security on a loan. There is money available they have said but we can't get it.
"So it is all out of our hands.
"What we need is a major investor so we can either buy the Showground or build a new ground somewhere else.
"And I am not just talking about £200,000 - we are talking about £1million for the club to survive. That's what it will take to secure the future of Great Harwood Town. We need major funding.
"Most other clubs - like Nelson, Darwen and Padiham - their grounds are owned by the borough, ours is a private landlord and that is what has made it harder.
"At the moment, the future is bleak - there is no future.
"The AGM is in four weeks and we have got that time to come up with a solution to save the football club."
Ian Jackson said: "We are still waiting to sort out the financial side of it and we could sell the land in the future but nothing is decided yet."
Great Harwood were first called Great Harwood Wellington when they were originally formed in the 1960s, started by a group of friends at their local pub.
They enjoyed a great deal of success winning the Lancashire Combination in 1969 and a host of local trophies.
The club came into its own in the 1970s when they played in the Northern Premier League and could list ex-England captain and Blackburn Rovers legend Ronnie Clayton along with Bryan Douglas and former Rovers keeper Bob Jones among their players. There was also Welsh legend Roy Vernon and crowds did rise to more than 2000.
However, chairman Derrick Keighley became frustrated as gates dwindled, he left and they fell on hard times. That meant the end of the "Wellington" team, who played on Lyndon House Field, in 1978.
It was only temporary though as Great Harwood Town was reformed in the same year and moved to the Showground.
They began again in the Lancashire Combination before becoming founder members of the North West Counties in 1982.
They won the North West Counties Division Two in 1991 by a record margin - losing just two games all season - and made the quarter-finals of the FA Vase.
The year after was even better as they finished second in the NWCL Division One and were promoted to the HFS Loans Northern Premier League (later to be the UniBond League) in 1992.
They were relegated back to the North West Counties Division One in 1999 and dropped into Division Two in 2002.
Current manager John Hughes steered the Robins to sixth place this season and took four points of FC United as the Manchester side dominated the league and brought a lot of publicity for the North West Counties League.
A crowd of 6000 watched Harwood beat FC United 1-0 on the day they were presented with the championship trophy at Gigg Lane.