EARLS Gymnastic Club have been dealt a double blow which has denied Halesowen the chance of having a world class sporting facility.

The club, whose member Kristian Thomas starred in the Olympics, had secured £300,000 funding and planning permission for a gym at the Wheel Spin site, Dudley Road.

However, this week negotiations with the landlord broke down at the last minute ruling out the site which led to the club losing £281,000 from British Gymnastics.

Club chairman Jon Caulwell said: “We are absolutely devastated. We should have been celebrating a momentous moment in our club’s history but instead we are distraught.”

He added: “Due to the criteria being changed next year we will not be eligible for the funding which is heartbreaking especially as we were so close.

“The Olympics seem a long time ago now but we will have to pick up the morale of everyone and move on because on the gymnastics side we are flying.”

For the foreseeable future the club will be staying at its current home on the site of The Earls Academy.

Mr Caulwell said: “Fortunately we have a great relationship with the school and have kept them updated throughout the process and we have a home to go back to but in the long term, who knows.”

The club’s staff had been working round the clock on the new project but stipulations by the landlord meant they could not move into the premises.

Mr Caulwell added: “Dudley Council have bent over backwards and were pivotal helping us secure planning permission and our project managers, PMP Consultants, have gone way beyond their remit helping us.”

The club scoured Halesowen for potential sites including the Walwell building, Huntingtree Road and also submitted a planning application to move to a premises at Westminster Industrial Estate, Netherton.

The club has 550 members and wanted to increase the number of members after the heroics of Kristian Thomas in the Olympics created a surge in interest.

After the games a successful campaign was launched to raise £13,000 needed for equipment and Halesowen Area Committee donated £9,000.

The £4,000 shortfall was met by Halesowen and Rotary Club and local businesses including Street Bike, Shipley’s Amusements and Stewardson Developments.