THE future of a football club is hanging in the balance after a fire destroyed its pavilion and storage unit.
The blaze was deliberately started at Cottesmore Amateurs Football Club in Main Street, Cottesmore, at about 11.45pm on Sunday last week.
It destroyed the wooden pavilion which contained two lawnmowers worth £10,000, footballs, goal posts and a generator used to power the club’s floodlights.
On Monday, chairman Allan Westray, 70, said he could not see a future for the club, despite it celebrating its 70th anniversary only weeks before.
The club has had to deal with spates of minor vandalism for more than 10 years.
Mr Westray said: “Unless someone comes forward and gives us a blank cheque, I just can’t see us carrying on.
“I just can’t do it anymore.”
He added: “Every year we dread the late nights and the summer holidays because something always happens.
“It’s exactly a year since the last time.
“Usually they are small things like broken windows which we have to spend club funds on. But we don’t have any money in the bank to cover this.”
The pavilion, which players used at half-time for refreshments, was not insured because the club could not get cover due persistent vandalism over the years.
Mr Westray estimates that replacing the building and equipment could cost between £70,000 and £80,000.
Cottesmore Amateurs play in the Everards Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division. The new season starts on August 20.
Players get changed at Cottesmore Sports and Social Club which is next to the ground.
League spokesman Dave Lumley said: “We never kick a man when he’s down.
“For the standard that we play at, floodlights are not necessary.
“We will endeavour to help Cottesmore in any way we can. It might be that they have to play all their away games until they get their facilities in place.”
Cottesmore Sports and Social Club has already said it would help to raise the funds to get the club up and running again.
The first thing it needs is a sit-on lawnmower so the pitch can be maintained. The club has football kits as they were kept elsewhere, but needs goalposts and footballs.
Sports and Social Club chairman Darren Feely, of Harrier Close, Cottesmore, said: “We have had a brief meeting and have said we will help the club in any way possible.
“We will hold a formal meeting at the end of the week to decide how much money we can afford to contribute and what kind of fundraising events we can help to organise.”
Cottesmore Amateurs manager Steve Duffy said there were other offers in the pipeline but nothing was yet concrete.
Cottesmore’s friendly with Bourne Town Football Club on Saturday will now take place in Bourne at 1pm.
Anyone with information can call police on 0116 222 222.