Hampton and Richmond Borough’s media director has called on football fans to support their teams however they can, as the club prepares to start the season without supporters in their stadium.
The National League South side kick off their league campaign away at St Albans tomorrow night, with the Government supplying a financial deal to prop up the National League.
The deal, confirmed on Friday 2 October and reportedly worth £10m for the first three months of the season, allows clubs to begin the season behind closed doors.
It is the first source of revenue many clubs will have had since the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed last season back in March, and Seb White, the Beavers’ media director, explained that without it, there was no way the season could have started.
He said: “We’re extremely grateful. There are tens of thousands of people across the country that live and breathe National League football, many of whom have been stuck inside for over six months, and because of the funding, these people will get football again.
“I don’t think the impact on them of having football again can be underestimated. Football plays a huge part in people’s mental health.
“I just hope that this makes people appreciate what we have in this country in the lower leagues and in the football pyramid. It’s special, it’s unique and it’s something for us all to be proud of. No other country in Europe has sixth or seventh tier football clubs that get hundreds or even a thousand supporters regularly.
“So I’m asking fans, not just of clubs but of football, to support football clubs in any way they can. All National League clubs are going to need every single penny. Every single fan contributes to clubs that have had no money for months. Nothing.”
National League South clubs are considered by the FA to be part of the ‘elite’ tier of clubs, meaning that they will not be allowed fans for home games, nor allowed to take fans to away games, even against lower tier sides.
This means that their main source of revenue will be the Government’s compensation package, as matchday revenues will continue to be lost.
But for Hampton and Richmond, it isn’t all doom and gloom, as the club have tried to use the pandemic as an opportunity to raise the profile of both the club and the league it plays in.
They are working on a streaming service for all home games, available for free to anyone who wants to watch the Beavers play, and have set up a stadium prize draw for supporters and sponsors alike to get their name on the Beveree Stadium.
The draw takes place on Saturday 10 October, and White said that the reaction to the draw has been brilliant.
He added: “It’s been better than I imagined and we’re extremely grateful.
“We had nothing to lose, we weren’t expecting a main stadium sponsor this season due to the pandemic. But it’s been so successful that we’re thinking we might make it a regular feature.
“We just want to make our club accessible to as many people as possible. We want to reach out and show how good the National League is.
“We have an amazing set of fans who have done brilliant work to keep us going over the summer. All of our staff except the players and coaches are volunteers and it’s only because of the tireless work and dedication of those volunteers that we’ve been able to get to this point.”
White’s optimism stretches onto the pitch, where Hampton and Richmond have been able to retain 13 of the players that got them within 0.01 points per game of a play-off spot last season.
White explained: “To retain that many players is virtually unheard of. We paid the extra 20% of their wages when they were furloughed because we felt they deserved it.
“We’re really excited for the new season and really want to get started. We’ve got a really good squad, and I believe that we will be in and around the play-offs.”
Credit: Thom Lang / Hampton and Richmond Borough FC