An initiative by boycotting Blackpool fans to raise much-needed cash for Kidderminster Harriers has been hailed as an “extraordinary gesture” by the chairman of the non-league club.
The National League North side, who face Blackpool at Bloomfield Road in the FA Cup first round on Sunday, could be left out of pocket due to the continued boycott of the Seasiders’ home games.
It has been estimated by Kidderminster’s club officials that they could lose up to £25,000, with FA Cup rules stipulating the visiting side receive 45 per cent of gate receipts.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST), conscious of how the protest will hit the Harriers financially, have launched a fundraising campaign to help make up the shortfall.
BST has suggested any fan boycotting the tie makes a donation of £6 – the percentage of the £13 ticket cost that would normally go to the away side – via the BST website’s ‘donate’ button.
Kidderminster’s chairman Colin Gordon said the initiative shows the “true comradeship” of football supporters.
Mr Gordon also pledged to sit with the away fans for the game, rather than taking his seat in the directors’ box.
In a message to BST, Mr Gordon said: “I would like to thank you for your fantastic gesture.
“We fully understand your position with the club’s current board and appreciate your anger and frustration.
“We support your right to protest wholeheartedly and wish you the best of luck in your quest to resolve this difficult situation.
“For you as a fans’ Trust to consider our club and the fact that we would lose much-needed income with your NAPM campaign is very commendable and shows the true comradeship of football supporters.
“We will do everything possible to support you this week and indeed at the game.
“I will not be using the directors’ facilities on Sunday and shall watch the game with our fans.
“I expect all of our board to do the same.”
Mr Gordon also vowed to join the supporters in the car park before the game in support of their protest.
The game, which has been moved to 2pm on Sunday for coverage on the BBC red button facility, will also be used by BST as an opportunity to protest outside Bloomfield Road.
BST chairman, Steve Rowland, said: “The reason for the ‘Boycott, Donate & Protest’ initiative is an obvious one. For Kidderminster, a relatively small cash-strapped club, an away tie in the FA Cup against league opposition is usually a significant source of funds to help keep their club going.
“With the ethical boycott and consequent low attendances at Blackpool, it’s obvious there would be a big impact on what Kidderminster might make from Sunday’s game and we, as fans, didn’t want our issues with our owners to impact on them adversely.
“Therefore we are proposing that all Blackpool fans boycotting the match should donate part or all of what they would have paid for a ticket to BST via the ‘donate’ button on our website, and we will pass the money on to Kidderminster.
“It is a principled and ethical thing to do. We have liaised with Kidderminster over the proposal and they are very grateful that we are taking this initiative.
“It is likely that many Harriers fans will join in the pre-match protest. We may be opponents on the pitch but off it we are all fans united in working to get better governance for football clubs and a greater say for fans in how clubs are run.”