A HAMPSHIRE pub once owned by former Arsenal footballer Charlie George has closed.

Admiral Taverns has called time on The Ashley Hotel in Ashley Road, New Milton, which is due to be converted into a convenience store.

Regulars said goodbye to their favourite watering hole at a farewell party in the main bar.

Customers say the closure, which follows the demise of the nearby Oak & Yaffle three years ago, has left the Ashley area without a pub.

But the Ashley Hotel had a troubled history.

In March 2010 it was ordered to close its doors for 28 days after its licence was suspended by New Forest District Council. Police claimed it had been plagued by violence, drug abuse and heavy drinking.

Officers also said the pub had flouted its licence by selling alcohol to people who were drunk or under-age.

In 2009 a man was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to someone in the car park and jailed for five years.

The pub has been sold to Salisbury-based Culverhill Retail, which is planning to turn it into a convenience store over the summer.

Director Roger Higgins said the shop was unlikely to open until August or September at the earliest. The store will employ 15-20 people.