A LONG-STANDING darts team is faced with having to find a new home due to the "unexpected" announcement that a pub at the heart of a Whitefield estate could close next month.

Some of the members of the Lord Clive Ladies darts team have been playing at the pub in Mersey Drive for more than 30 years, with members aged between 29 and 81.

They say they have been "left with no choice" but to find a new venue.

It follows brewery JW Lees' announcement early last week of the pending sale of the public house to a Greater Manchester-based developer.

JW Lees say they have been "transparent" about the sale of the pub with tenant Leanne Doherty who, along with her family, was served a four-week notice period last Monday.

Joanne Stockley, darts team captain, said: "We have been forced to try and find a new venue to play darts, which has really upset the team.

"The Lord Clive ladies darts team has been going for more than 30 years with two original members still on the team — Margaret Ashton and Mary Craig who are known to us as Auntie Mags and Auntie Mary.

"Others, like member Julie Mcardle, have been on the team for more than 20 years.

"Needless to say I am gutted because this has been our home. The pub is the hub of the community. Everyone knows everyone. We all look after one another. We really are like one big family."

A petition has been set up to save the venue, which is situated on the Hillock estate.

The Lord Clive is understood to have been on the market for more than two years.

A spokesman for JW Lees previously told the Bury Times: "It is with great regret that due to difficult trading conditions and the long-term decline of the business at the Lord Clive, we have decided to sell our lease on the property."

A petition has been set up to save the venue and the the news of its pending closure has been met with public outcry.