A SPORTS club that has been at the heart of the Mill Hill community for the last 150 years could lose its home after Barnet Council almost doubled its rent.

Mill Hill Village Sports Club faces an uncertain future after the authority decided to increase the rent for its in Burton Hole Lane home from £7,400 to £13,500 each year.

Club chairman Ted Kelly said that the club, which is already struggling financially, will not survive if it is forced from the ground it has called home since the Second World War.

“We’re scraping the barrel to pay the rates and utility bills and we need to pay for improvements. We’re struggling to just survive. It’s hand to mouth at the moment.

“We need help from the local authority, rather than them asking for more money.”

The club, which today provides football and cricket for 200 children and 100 adults on its home on the edge of the Green Belt, was etablished in 1868 and has been in the borough ever since.

It was based at Nan Clark’s Lane until 1942, when its original home was adopted by the Ministry of Defence to be used to house anti-aircraft guns.

The club approached what was then the Hendon District Council and was granted a lease on its current home, where it has served the community ever since.

It relies entirely on the small fees from members, and was hit hard by a cold winter that prevented the ground from being used.

Mr Kelly said: “There’s nowhere for us to move to. Sports grounds are closing down everywhere and if we have to leave here we would disappear.

“If we’re forced out the land will be left derelict, and there will be no more sport.”

A spokeswoman for Barnet Council said the authority has proposed a market based rent "in accordance with existing council policies".

She added: "The existing rent was on a lease which was last reviewd in 1999. We have not yet concluded negotiations with the club."

Mill Hill councillor John Hart has secured a meeting with Mike Freer, the leader of the council, to present the case for a three to five year rental holiday to help the club survive.

He said: “I want to help the club survive. With the problems we have with obesity, we’re supposed to be trying to get young people off their botties and playing sport.

“I have to convince the leader that this is a goodun. But what the club really needs is some sponsors. There’s plenty of rich people around here, some of them must like cricket.”