GRAYS Athletic are planning to quit their 100-year-old home for a new purpose-built stadium nine miles outside their home town.

The Nationwide Conference club's chairman Mick Woodward says that the two-time FA Trophy winners would "die" if they did not quit their New Rec stadium for a new site.

Supporters have been polarised by the club's announcement, with some disappointed at the prospect of leaving their historic home.

The favoured location for a new stadium - which Mr Woodward said could be shared with local clubs East Thurrock or Aveley - is believed to be a site south of the A13 near the Five Bells roundabout.

The chairman said the new stadium, which would have a capacity of at least 5,000, would be funded by the sale of the Blues current Bridge Road home.

"Grays Athletic will be moving to a new site," Mr Woodward confirmed.

"We are landlocked at the moment and at the end of the day we cannot bring in major sponsors because of our location.

"At the moment we cannot even accommodate SKY TV.

"I know Grays Athletic has a history in the town but if the club doesn't move then it will die.

"We are looking at options, and the Five Bells is among them, and if that means building a new ground then we will do it.

"The only way this will happen is if the New Rec is redeveloped, but the final decision will be up to the planners."

The sale of the New Rec - which Mr Woodward has an option to buy from current owners the family of Ron Billings, who saved the club in 1981 - for a figure of around £5million would fund the building of the new stadium.

The chairman confirmed that he would consider sharing the cost and use of any new stadium with other local non-league sides including Ryman League East Thurrock United and Aveley.

He added: "It is up to East Thurrock to do what they have to do, but we have found a new site and I would like to think that us and East Thurrock or Aveley could own it right down the middle to cut the costs.

"One thing I will make clear is that we will not amalgamate with East Thurrock or Aveley, but we would consider joint ownership.

One club definitely not interested in ground-sharing is Conference South side Thurrock, who are based in Ship Lane, Grays.

Thurrock chairman Tommy South said: "We are very happy where we are."

Fans have given a mixed reaction to the announcement, with some concerned about supporters being able to reach the new stadium and others excited by the prospect of a move.

One said: "Personally I am all for moving from the New Rec and if the club do move near Basildon I will still go, but I bet many of the fans would not or could not go there."

Another added: "The only reason we all want to stay the New Rec is nostalgia.

"I have lots of fantastic memories, but it is not the future. The club needs to create a modern facility that can be used by the local community."