A WIGAN businessman has blasted the thieves and vandals he says have destroyed his dream of restoring a leading cabaret venue.
John Martin put Goose Green Sports and Social Club up for sale following a spate of serious break-ins, which he says left him looking at a bill of £250,000 to put the building back in good order.
Mr Martin, who is a cabaret star and former director of Wigan rugby league club, hit out at the “lowlifes” who have repeatedly stolen equipment and damaged the Little Lane venue, including incidents in which every toilet bowl in the club was smashed, copper piping was taken and a sound system worth £20,000 removed.
Mr Martin says a couple of potential buyers, including a national company, have expressed an interest in the venue but it was too soon to say what the future held for the 550-seater building, which was once one of Wigan’s most popular entertainment venues.
Mr Martin said: “I was prepared to redevelop and reopen the venue because there’s a niche for cabaret and entertainment in Wigan, but sadly there are people who haven’t got better things to do than go round wrecking people’s property and stealing.
“It’s just been so deflating, and in the end it has become an impossibility to revamp the club. It’s just wanton destruction, there’s no value in copper so for ripping it out they must have made about £40.
“As for smashing every toilet in the place, I just don’t know why anyone would do that. They are lowlifes, those kind of people have no consideration for anybody else.
“Putting the club back in a reasonable state would cost £150,000, and to reach the standard I wanted in the first place we are talking about £250,000. I was prepared to put the first couple of break-ins behind me, but the incidents over the summer were the final straw.”
The sports and social club, formerly Goose Green Labour Club, has faced speculation about its future for some time, with Mr Martin having to invest some £220,000 to ease its financial difficulties before taking over the running of the club after the subsequent management also ran up large debts.
Mr Martin had hoped to return the building to its glory days but says it is difficult to see a positive future for the traditional working men’s clubs and cabaret entertainment. He said: “They are dying in Wigan and it’s very sad.
“The working men who joined in the original era of the clubs are now in their 70s and 80s and young people don’t want to go there because they’re regarded as old fashioned.”