PLAYERS, supporters and businesses have been praised after uniting to offer their support at Felixstowe & Walton United FC.
Contracted players have waived their wages, supporters have donated more than £1,000 after a social media appeal and businesses have told the club to keep money for table bookings as a donation after the annual Sportsman’s Dinner was cancelled.
These generous acts are helping the BetVictor Isthmian League North club through what is an unprecedented period of hardship for all Suffolk clubs due to the Coronavirus.
The social media appeal was the idea of Chris Daynes, the club’s chief operating officer, after their scheduled home match at the Goldstar Ground (pictured above) versus Histon last Saturday was postponed the day before.
He said: “We were all prepared for the match – the brewery had stocked us up, all the food and drink was ready and it wasn’t until the Friday that we were told the game was off.
“We have had a few matches off recently due to the winds and waterlogged pitches, and last Saturday was the first weekend we have had good weather for a while and there was no game!
“I think loads of people would have been at a loose end and would have spent £9 to come along and watch and £3 on a burger, so I put out an appeal via Facebook and Twitter asking if supporters would consider donating the money they would have spent at the ground.”
The appeal was launched on Saturday lunchtime and ran until Sunday evening, with supporters able to donate via a PayPal button on the club’s website.
Daynes said: “Every time someone donated, I got a ping on my phone and it just kept going off. I didn’t expect such a response, but around £500 had been raised by Saturday night.
“It seems every fundraising event we do we are overwhelmed and we were inundated with people donating and in the end raised £1,080.
“At the time we didn’t know when we were going to open the club up again or when the next game would be, but people like to see where their money is going and their donations have covered five weeks’ of ground rent.
“On top of that contracted players who are due their wages to a man have all agreed they will hold off and not take any money from the club, which is brilliant as well.”
The club’s long-established annual Sportsman’s Dinner, which is traditionally held on Maundy Thursday – April 9th this year – has had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus.
Tony Barnes, the club’s vice-chairman, organises the event, which is the Seasiders’ second biggest fundraiser of the year.
He wrote to businesses who had booked tables to say the club would be eternally grateful if they were not asked to refund the payments but to keep them as payment for when the dinner is rescheduled later in the year.
Barnes said he was ‘overwhelmed’ by their generosity after a number of businesses replied to say the club could keep the money as a donation and that they would also re-book.
Andy Wilding, the club’s chairman, said: “Everyone has been unbelievable – the players, coaches, managers, supporters and local businesses – it has been a real community effort.”