A JUNIOR football club has been left with a £3,000 bill after its changing rooms were damaged by arsonists in the third attack on its ground in two years.

Darwen Rangers is to launch an appeal to repair the roof after the weekend fire at its Branch Road headquarters left it leaking water.

Chairman Ian Cordingley learned about the blaze on Wednesday from players and was notifying the police and checking scale of the damage.

The club this season ran 16 teams for 180 boys and 60 girls aged from six to 18. Its under-12 ‘Blues boys’ side won its league in the East Lancashire Football Association and the under-11s play in a cup final tomorrow.

Mr Cordingley said the fire had left the changing rooms blackened by smoke and the roof severely damaged.He added: “We need to look properly at the damage but the main beams have been severely affected and it’s too dangerous at the moment.

“The changing rooms will need a new roof which will cost £3,000.

“We have not got the money and will have to launch an appeal to raise it.

“This is just pointless vandalism, ruining the chances of young people to play sport. For a few minutes of fun, these bored youngsters ruin the fun for others all year round.

“It’s the third attack since we moved to Branch Road two years ago. Soon after we got there someone broke in to steal our grass cutter worth about £4,000. Luckily I am groundsman for Darwen Cricket Club so I just use theirs instead.

“A few weeks ago, someone stole the generator worth £200 which we use for lighting.

“We have until September to find the money and will be appealing firstly to people who have helped before, like waste company SITA.

“I have been groundsman and involved in football and soccer clubs for 40 years and it’s a problem which won’t go away. Youngsters, not local ones, think it’s fun to vandalise things and set fire to buildings.

“If we can’t get the changing rooms repaired for next season, the players will have to come in their strips or get changed at Sandy Lane and walk down a short footpath.”