Cup run could secure club future

Supporters and players reacting to the FC Cup Draw live at the Woodspring Stadium.

Supporters and players reacting to the FC Cup Draw live at the Woodspring Stadium. - Credit: Archant

THE future of Weston Football Club could have been safeguarded overnight after the Seagulls were paired with League One Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup first round draw on Monday night.

The glamour tie with the South Yorkshire club next weekend has missed out on live television coverage, but is likely to attract a first-ever 3,500 sell-out crowd and The Seagulls in addition to the £24,500 they have already netted in prize money, giving Weston their biggest payday in years, having attracted an average support of just 306 to the Woodspring Stadium so far this season.

Add to that a likely first-ever 3,500 sell-out crowd and The Seagulls are undoubtedly looking at their biggest payday in years, having attracted an average support of just 306 to the Woodspring Stadium so far this season.

Manager Mickey Bell previously stated the prize pot for progressing in the FA Cup would be directed back into the playing squad - but with an unprecedented sum already guaranteed, and with one of the smallest budgets in the Vanarama Conference South, the club could also see its longer-term future safeguarded.

The BBC’s Price Of Football Survey recently revealed fans of Sky Bet Championship sides Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County enjoy cheaper match day tickets than The Seagulls’ £12 adult fee, while seven teams from higher leagues also offer cheaper season tickets. This season, The Seagulls have recorded the sixth-lowest average attendance in the Vanarama Conference South.


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Bell’s side will be hopeful of a memorable giant-killing against Rovers, following in the footsteps of then-Conference sides Luton and Crawley Town who have both caused huge cupsets in recent years, with the latter awarded a dream tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford in February 2011 after reaching the fifth round, beating league sides Swindon Town, Derby County and Torquay United along the way.

Ewan Dunlop, Crawley Town’s commercial manager, told the Mercury their cup run ‘would have kept us afloat for five years’, and the gains both on and off the pitch had been huge.

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He said: “It was the first time we had reached the first round for ages. The financial windfall was about £2.2million, easily enough to keep us afloat for five years.

“Before the cup run we were averaging around the 1,000 mark for league games, and that began trickling up a few hundred with each game we won. We were just shy of 2,000 before United came out of the hat and we didn’t fall below 3,500 after that.

“It’s something Weston can definitely take advantage of and, if they manage to progress even further, they will continue to reap the rewards in a big way.”

Weston supporter Ray Cox, who was at the first round draw on Monday, was hopeful that his side could upset the odds next weekend.

He said: “I think it’s a pretty great draw for us. It will bring a great full house to the Woodspring Stadium too.

“When Mickey Bell took the job I know he was told to keep us up and with the points we have at the moment, maybe this money could be the difference between staying up and not.”

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