The pledge by Chichester City to make a donation to Bury is no PR stunt insists chairman Andy Bell, having seen his own club on the brink 18 months ago.
The BetVictor Isthmian League South East side are on an extraordinary run, having reached the first round of the FA Cup before landing a cash-laden bye into the second.
This weekend they host promotion-chasing Ashford United at Oaklands Park with officials hoping a bumper gate will help them break their highest previous league attendance of 198.
The talk on the terraces will be all about the cup. City’s run has pocketed them £46,390 in prize money alone with a further £36,000 to come after they were the last ball to come out of the televised draw, profiting from the expulsion of Bury from the Football League.
It sparked wild celebrations from players, supporters and officials back in the clubhouse at Oaklands Park which weren’t intended to be taken disrespectfully in the circumstances.
City announced afterwards they would be making a donation to the appropriate organisation involved in the continuation of Bury which was widely applauded.
“We’ve gone quiet [on social media] because we want to consider what we’re doing because with our intentions with Bury, it could be read wrong,” Bell told The Non-League Paper last Sunday.
“I gave interviews before the draw saying we were going to make a donation, it’s something that resonated with us, we almost went bankrupt 18 months ago before I came back to the club.
“I didn’t realise the financial trouble we were in to be honest. Every week we were getting more and more bills. Some good people dug their hands in their pockets, paid off some of it and in the last year we’ve been trying to get our lease on the ground back.
“The bailiffs turned up and said you haven’t paid this and that – you’re out. The council let us play there until the end of the season and then gave us a temporary lease.
“The Bury situation resonates with us and we don’t want to be seen reveling in someone else’s misfortune, not necessarily the club, but more for the supporters who will probably be starting at the same step we were last season.”
Bell returned to the club last year having been assistant manager four years ago, answering a call from manager Miles Rutherford to help out off the pitch.
Initially he arrived as a committee member but now oversees the club and maintains the pitch.
It’s been 18 months of hard work from the club’s loyal volunteers, who saw their team win the Southern Combination League last season, and this magical FA Cup run is seen as a reward.
“Last year was a massive struggle,” he added. “We realised quite early on we had a good chance to get promoted despite low finances. We were going from near bankruptcy to possibly being in the Isthmian League, how do we finance that? But we wanted to go up.
“This FA Cup run has made life so much easier. We’ll cover what might have been a shortfall this year and the rest of it stays in the bank. We’re not suddenly going to go from not being able to sustain an Isthmian League budget to being able to within one year.
“In a season we’ve gone from crowds of 60 or 80 up to mid-200s. We’ve worked really hard getting the youth back involved with us.
“What’s happened this week is just amazing. Our manager and coaches are a bit special too. They play the fools very well to be honest!
“But if you speak to the players, they idolise all four of them. Something special is happening at the moment.”