ARSON is the suspected cause of a fire which tore through the derelict clubhouse at the former home of Croydon Athletic FC.
A blaze broke out at the Keith Tuckey Stadium off Mayfield Road in Thornton Heath at about 11.30pm last Thursday.
Michael Thomas, Norbury's blue watch manager, said there was "100 per cent damage" to the roughly 20m by 30m building.
He said: "We received multiple calls about the fire because it could be seen from quite a distance.
"We had five fire engines and because of the distance of the clubhouse away from the road we had to set up a water relay.
"The chances are it was deliberate because it is a derelict building."
A police spokesman said it was awaiting the findings of the fire brigade before deciding whether to investigate.
The blaze was under control by 12.30am, with crews staying on the scene until 6am. No injuries were reported.
The grounds are owned by Croydon Council and were leased to the former Croydon Athletic FC.
The club folded in December 2011 following a troubled period including since-proven allegations of owner Mazhar Majeed's involvement in a cricket-fixing scandal, and the suicide of its chairman, David Le Cluse.
AFC Croydon Athletic, formed last year by fans of Croydon Athletic FC, has long hoped to start playing at the grounds.
Its chairman Paul Smith told the Advertiser: "It has always been our wish and continues to be our wish that we will go back there, but clearly that has taken a knock as a result of the fire."
A spokesman for Croydon Council said the clubhouse was insured and would be restored.