Blackpool FC praised for 'phenomenal' gesture in waiving expenses claim for FA Cup trip to Eastbourne
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The Seasiders made the 636-mile round-trip to East Sussex at the weekend, easing into the second round of the competition thanks to a 3-0 victory.
Neil Critchley’s side stayed over in Eastbourne on Saturday night, having trained on the Priory Lane’s 4G pitch earlier in the day.
Under FA guidelines, Blackpool would be well in their rights to claim for their share in travel expenses.
But with Eastbourne being one of many non-league sides struggling with the crippling financial effects of coronavirus, Blackpool’s hierarchy opted not to charge their opponents for the “significant” expenses tab.
“Blackpool have stated they are not requesting any expenses for their recent visit to Eastbourne for the FA Cup tie on Sunday,” Eastbourne’s chief executive John Bonar said in a statement.
“Ordinarily the process is that all expenses are added together and deducted from any gate receipts and then any profit split between the two clubs. Their expenses would have been significant and this is a phenomenal gesture for which we are very grateful.
“We tried our best to look after the players and directors of Blackpool during their short visit and treated them with the utmost respect they deserve, so to be recognised for our efforts with this goodwill gesture comes as a massive boost for everyone.
“Blackpool played their part in a day that will live long in the memory of everyone involved with the club, both on and off the pitch and we can't thank them enough for their generosity, especially during this difficult time across the country.
“We wish Blackpool the best in their FA Cup venture and League One campaign this season, and hope we have built a good relationship with the club on and off the pitch moving forward.”
It comes after Blackpool fans helped raise £2,100 for Eastbourne to make up for the cash they would have otherwise received had the game been played in front of fans.
Club officials suggested that as many as 4,000 fans would have attended the fixture had it not been played behind closed doors.
The cup tie, described as the biggest game in Eastbourne’s 55-year history, will have raised around £40,000 for the National League South side, a priceless lifeline for a non-league club during these unprecedented times.
This is when you also factor in broadcast fees, due to the game being televised by BT Sport, and prize money - with clubs also benefiting financially even if they’re on the losing side this season due to the lack of gate receipts.
David Blackmore, Eastbourne’s chief executive, posted a message of thanks on Blackpool fans’ forum Another View From The Tower.
“On behalf of everyone at Eastbourne Borough FC I would just like to say a huge THANK YOU,” he wrote.
“The fundraising was brilliant and we will be forever grateful, however our thanks go way beyond that. These forums always split opinion about every club but I can tell you that you support a club that oozes class.
"Throughout the build up to Sunday’s game, during and after, everybody involved in Blackpool FC, from supporters, club officials, media, management team and players have treated us as a club with the utmost respect both on and off the field. This takes a special kind of class when there is such a big gap between our clubs.
"Blackpool FC and its supporters will always hold a special place for Eastbourne Borough and we genuinely hope that we will be able to organise a pre-season friendly so that the fans of both our clubs can get together to create the magic again.
“Good luck for the rest of the season and thank you again for being Blackpool FC."