A TOP Andover Lions official has admitted the club may not return to the football field next season following their sudden departure from the Hampshire League.

The Senior Division club confirmed this week that they had withdrawn from the Hampshire Premier League after submitting formal notice to league officials last month.

The Lions’ secretary Chris Paris told the Advertiser the decision was due to the club’s inability to regularly field a strong enough team.

In a statement Mr Paris said: “We have reluctantly withdrawn from the league.

“We were unable to regularly field a team of the calibre required to represent the town at this level.

“Last season was a great success and the culmination of five years of hard work.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to kick on from that point and build upon what was achieved.”

Asked if the club would return next season, he said: “I can’t confirm that it will definitely be the case, but conversations are taking place.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to involve new people within the club set up over the coming weeks to enable The Lions to be playing football next season.”

The news of the Lions’ departure was also confirmed by the league this week.

In a statement they said: “We are saddened to receive formal withdrawal from the league with immediate effect of The (Andover) Lions.

“The management committee will decide what happens regards their playing record and player registrations at the forthcoming management meeting.”

The Lions, who formed following the collapse of Andover FC in 2011, had endured a difficult season up until this point.

After gaining promotion to the Hampshire Premier League Senior Division last season, the Lions struggled to make ground against their new opponents.

The club hovered around midtable for the early part of the season, before the departure of last season’s league winning manager, John Smith, who went on to join Andover New Street.

The Lions subsequently hit a poor run of form in November, which saw them sink towards the bottom end of the league.

A 5-0 defeat to Bush Hill in early December would become their final fixture of the season.

The Lions did not play again for the rest of the year but were due to return last month for a derby fixture with Overton.

However it was postponed due to Lions being unable to raise a side.