A sports centre run by Accrington Stanley Community Trust has been targeted again – this time by a man who padlocked the front gate shut and threw rusty nails over the floor.

A man dressed in a waterproof coat was spotted on CCTV outside Stanley Sports Hub on Thorneyholme Road just after 10pm on Sunday.

It follows other incidents this year, such as glass being thrown onto the Sports Hub’s 3G pitch and members of the public taking pictures of staff setting up sessions - but staff are remaining defiant.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “Here we’ve got a community facility that thousands of people use in the town, rather than a rundown council facility that becomes difficult to maintain.

“Thousands of children are using it every week before the lockdown.

“It’s a brilliant facility but unfortunately there’s a handful of people – and we’re certain they’re adults – that still seem to be causing trouble.”

Prior to the opening of the Sports Hub last year, some locals have been campaigning relentlessly against the construction.

Once the facility opened, however, staff noticed the opposition become increasingly aggressive.

“There was a group of people that were against this facility being built and there's a lot of vitriol on social media,” the spokesperson added.

“Police have just recently shut down a Facebook page because of the threats that were going on.

“Some of our employees are receiving death threats as well - it's extremely serious and the police are following up some lines of inquiry to try and get to the bottom of it.”

The Sports Hub confirmed that police are investigating the acts of criminal damage and a potential attempt to break into the facility.

Officers are meeting with the Hub’s managers next week to discuss death threats made against members of staff at the facility, which are being treated as a separate and more serious incidents.

The spokesperson added: “If we find out who is responsible, we will press charges at the highest level because it's not on at all.

“It's not fair on the staff, it's not fair on the community, the children that use that facility and it needs to stop.

“This facility is there for everybody to use and it will continue to be there for everybody to use – we’re not going to let a minority stop the good that we’re providing for the town.”

The Sports Hub has urged anyone who lives near the facility with any information or CCTV to get in touch.

A Lancashire Police spokesperson said: "We have been made aware of an incident occurring at Stanley Sports Hub, Thorneyholme Road, Accrington at around 10pm on Sunday 19th July where a padlock was attached to the Hubs gates and nails found at the entrance.

"Previously, glass has been found on grass pitches in the facility that is used by children and the community.

"Police are investigating the incident and appeal for any witnesses or CCTV that may have captured the incident.

"Police have stepped up patrols in the area and the neighbourhood policing team will be on Thorneyholme Road today conducting door-to-door enquiries."