A BINGO club in Greenock that has been at the heart of the community for over 20 years faces a battle to prevent its number being up.

Management at Club 3000 say the hall faces a fight for survival due to the effects of the year-long coronavirus crisis.

They have signed up for the 'Save Scottish Bingo' campaign, which is asking the Scottish Government for the same financial support as venues such as cinemas, theatres and nightclubs.

Local manager Iain Woolley, who runs the Greenock club, says that it is not just the 30 employees who are dependent on the club's survival - but the many members of the community who view it as a lifeline.

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Iain told the Tele: "It's been incredibly difficult over the past year for us.

"We were closed from March to September, opened again for six weeks then were closed until 11 December.

"We were open for two weeks when the new lockdown was announced, so once again our staff were furloughed.

"We've been quite lucky in that our owner Brian Fraser has invested a lot of money in our club, but other clubs up and down the country haven't been as fortunate and have sadly closed."

Iain and his staff fear that the Container Way venue could become the next casualty if the Bingo Association in Scotland's drive for fresh financial aid does not pay off.

He said: "Our club is more than just bingo but is a place for the community.

"We welcome customers of all ages through the door and it would be such a loss to the area."

Iain says the club is a lifeline for many pensioners in the area.

He said: "It's somewhere that people can come on their own and feel comfortable.

"It could be the only interaction some of our customers have.

"When we reopened we were well supported and we were beginning to build up a momentum again.

"While I really hope we don't close, the longer this goes on there is more uncertainty surrounding the situation, so you can never say never.

"We've so many long-standing staff too who really make the club what it is.

"It'd be such a loss to everyone involved."

If the Scottish Government decide to return to local protection levels post-lockdown, the club will have to wait until Inverclyde is placed in level two before reopening.

The Save Scottish Bingo campaign has warned the government that the livelihoods of over 1,000 bingo employees across Scotland are at risk if clubs collapse.

They want bingo businesses to be offered more than small grants.

Iain argues the hall is safer than some hospitality venues and added that before the lockdown he invited local MSP Stuart McMillan to see all the Covid-19 measures that had been taken.

Iain added: "Bingo managers across Club 3000 all wrote to their MP and MSP to ask for support in our campaign.

"Stuart McMillan came to see us and was really impressed with how we were operating.

"Our hall was running at around one third of our normal capacity to allow two metre social distancing, we upped our cleaning schedule, we ask that masks be worn, we have hand sanitiser stations across the club and also installed sneeze screens.

"Being optimistic I'd love to say we'll be back open for March, but I just couldn't say.

"Too many clubs have closed and I don't want to see such a long-standing industry collapse.

"It's more than just the game."

To sign up in support of the Save Scottish Bingo campaign, visit bit.ly/3r3JY98.