Wrexham Football Club have announced a bucket collection will be held at the next home game on the 24th of February, with proceeds going to Chester Football Club who are in financial peril.
Chester Football Club said “Everyone at Chester Football Club would like to thank Wrexham AFC for this sincere gesture and really appreciate their support” describing the move as kind.
The part-Flintshire based club are in a ‘financial challenge’, the full extent only revealed to their fanbase at a meeting held on January 25th. That meeting was told the club at the time had around £30,000 left in the bank, yet had running costs at nearer £80,000 a month – with a six figure ‘rainy day fund’ already used up. One slide presented to fans even included the possibility of winding up the club, with the stark reality of ‘padlocking the gates’ on their ground being given as an indication of the gravity of their problems.
In the days following the meeting several members of the club’s Board stepped down.
Wrexham AFC made the following statement this evening: “Over recent months the footballing family have faced the harsh reality of life and how difficult it can be to balance the success of a football club both on and off the pitch at National League level. We’ve witnessed it in all different types of ownership model with various sized supporter bases.
“As a club Wrexham AFC remembers its dark days under previous ownership and the help and support we got from clubs across the country to help us get the club back on its feet, help that was vital in our survival bid.
“All bucket collection donations are voluntary but we invite supporters to put aside rivalries and do our small bit to help Chester FC overcome this challenge by donating whatever amount you can afford, however small, on the way into the stadium. Your generosity as fans is always amazing and this is another chance to demonstrate it. The derby is always a great atmosphere and what is football without its special games? The Wrexham AFC versus Chester FC is up there amongst the most special games in British Football and long may it continue.”
“We can resume rivalries at 12pm on Sunday 11th March as the two sides clash in what promises to be another intense and entertaining 90 minutes of National League football.”
Other big clubs have also been helping Chester, with AFC Bournemouth loaning the club a defender.
Reaction of fans has been generally supportive of the move, with Chester fans on the Deva Chat forum saying: “This just shows that that when there is a crisis we are one footballing family. I would like to thank Wrexham FC for making this generous offer, and our group of volunteers, coordinated by the fundraising working group, who will be rattling the buckets in the dragons den.”
We’re all football family. Chester may be our rivals and on derby day I can’t stand them but in the bigger picture they’re another fan owned lower league club like ourselves. Great gesture. Still, no mercy to be shown on 11th March though and we don’t want to lose the 6 points
— Robert Williams 🏴 (@WxmRob) February 14, 2018
Others have been less enthusiastic, with the natural rivalry coming to a head:
I hope they burn the bucket once they have collected the money and post it on Twitter rather than hand it over to us, it just embarrassing (in my opinion).
— Ben (@BenCassidy19) February 14, 2018
Some have taken the natural opportunity to engage with some good natured jokes:
Why don’t we sponsor one of their stands, preferably the Welsh one. #TheWrexhamAFC Stand, assuming you could fit that many letters on it
— Basher (@JDubash) February 14, 2018
The sledging has been ongoing since the news of the financial issues first arose, with X Factor’s Wagner even chipping in with an opinion:
— Fearless In Devotion (@fearlessidzine) January 27, 2018
Tomorrow night Chester are also holding an ‘All Star Game’, including Jason McAteer, to help raise funds with over 1000 tickets already sold – details are here for those who are interested in the full line up and attending the event.