Crunch talks over the future of a village football club are set to take place after thieves stole thousands of pounds worth of equipment.

Colne Engaine Football Club, which plays in the third tier of the Essex and Suffolk Border League, will be hosting a crunch meeting next week in a bid to protect its future.

The club struggled for players and volunteers throughout last season and has now been left with a gaping financial hole after a lawn mower costing £8,000 was stolen during an overnight raid.

Thieves are understood to have broken through several doors to get into the garage storing the mower before fleeing with the machine.

Chairman Tom Owen said: “We’re a small club and worked incredibly hard fundraising to get this equipment.

“This was clearly a planned theft, targeting the most expensive equipment the club owns, after the end of the football season.

“This is gutting for our club and, thanks to these actions, a group of young players may not have a football club next season.

“Realistically unless we can find the funds to replace this equipment quickly there is a very real chance the club won’t continue next season.”

As well as the need for financial support, Colne Engaine FC has issued a plea for new players and volunteers to join.

Three long serving committee members have stepped down from their roles this summer and dwindling player numbers has left the club on the brink of collapse.

Mr Owen added: “We have great facilities, games lined up each week but not enough people to take part in the matches.

“I don’t know why interest has dropped to be honest.

“When we started the club 14 years ago we were all young teens who loved football.

“But now people are busy working and have other commitments.

“There are fewer young people living in villages which has had an impact.”

“Up until last year we were breaking even but now we are really struggling. We want people of all ages to join and help out however they can.”

The meeting over the club’s future will take place at the Five Bells pub on Tuesday, starting at 8pm.

During the season, the club trains on Wednesday evenings and plays matches on Saturdays.

Anyone interested in playing for the club or helping on the committee should contact

Anyone with any information about the theft of the lawn mower, which took place sometime between May 19 and May 23, should contact police on 101 quoting crime reference number 42/71462/18.