BAR BILLIARDS: The Oxford Association is on the brink of folding after 72 years.

The shock news comes after Bar Billiards Ltd - the company that provides all of the sport's tables throughout Britain - informed the league that they are to cease trading.

It means for the sport to continue, landlords would have to buy their tables.

Although they are being given first refusal, and offered the tables at a reduced rate, they will still set them back almost £1,000.

Secretary Pete Ewins says that the news puts the future of the sport in doubt.

"It has caused a major problem," he said.

"A lot of landlords will not be able to afford to buy the tables, and I know that a lot of talk is about whether players chip in and help with the cost as well.

"But I can't see that we would have the same amount of tables next season, and so it is debatable whether the league would be able continue.

"It badly needs everyone concerned to do what they can to help us - hopefully someone will come in with a bit of money and save us."

A statement from Bar Billiards Ltd said that continuing to provide tables was 'unviable'.

"There were 2,240 tables once, but there are now 128 - all of which are rented," it said.

"This product is now unviable, and in the current difficult trading circumstances, all equipment has to be viable."

Chris Meeson, landlord of the Masons Arms, said: "We certainly don't want to lose the table or the league.

"My table is an old one, so whether it's worth the money they are asking is debatable, but we'll have to see what will happen."

West Oxfordshire Democrats Club steward Marcus Cornish said: "We are going to buy our table.

"Our main concern, however, is that if it needs re-clothing or repairing a few months down the line, who is going to do it? Renting it, Bar Billiards Ltd would come out and do it for us."

The Oxford Bar Billiards Association was formed in 1936, and had 108 teams in its record year.

There are now just 19 clubs who play in four divisions, as well as cup competitions.