Published: 14:06, 12 August 2021
| Updated: 14:29, 12 August 2021
A National League football club battered by financial blows has launched a campaign to get 3000 supporters at its first game of the season.
The appeal has been made by Dover Athletic Supporters Club in a desperate bid to bolster funds and bring followers back to grass roots football.
The Crabble based club has been plagued by money troubles through the pandemic, receiving a near fatal blow in March when it was fined £40,000 by the FA because DAFC didn't have the money to fulfil its fixture commitments.
As the club prepares to start the season handicapped by a 12 point deduction, chairman of the supporters club Lee Sansum filmed an impassioned plea from the 5,500 capacity stadium.
Broadcast to the supporters club Facebook page, he said: "I'm sure you're all aware the last 18 months have been extremely challenging for the football club with the National League handing out a £40,000 fine and a 12 point deduction starting next season.
"While we do believe the club has assigned the top players to compete at this level, we are also aware that the 12 point deduction is going to be very challenging to overcome. This is why we're calling on the people of Dover to become the 12th man, and have launched, as a supporters club, the Project 3000 where it's our goal to have 3,000 fans in this ground on the first game of the season against Solihull Moors on the 21st August at 3pm kick off.
"So where will you be n 21st August? We hope it's here at Crabble.
"We hope to see you soon. Make sure everybody knows Project 3000."
In February its chairman Jim Parmenter offered to sell the National League club after admitting it needs financial help when a grant was not forthcoming.
He said he was not prepared to take out a loan to carry on playing and saddle the club with further debt for years to come.
In March the club was punished for failing to meet its fixture commitments because of money troubles - it was dealt a 12-point deduction for the 2021/22 playing season and £40,000 fine.
Mr Parmenter's appeal to the FA was thrown out in June and they must also pay £1,600 costs which had to be paid within 30 days.
Of the current financial situation Mr Sansum added: "Right now it's a case of reducing the budget of playing staff (now reduced to about 19-20 players) and we've had to go from full-time to part-time to get the money to pay the fine. That's why we're pushing for 3000 people that will aid paying it."
Pre-pandemic, about 1,100 fans would pass through the turnstiles at each home game. The 2021-22 budget is for 1500 spectators per week. Doubling that on the first game will "add a lot to the pot" he said.
Entry at the turnstiles is £9 under 18s, £15 over 60s concessions, and £18 per adult.
A season ticket is £50, £280 and £340 respectively.
Drinks and refreshments are available.
The club is always open to people helping out.
Supporters have shown their dedication too with one gentleman holding a regular meat raffle sponsored from his own pocket and raising about £500 month. Another set up a crowdfunding page bringing in about £6,500 and a large scale raffle in the summer collected £1,400. Quiz nights and race nights are planned throughout the year as further means to claw in Funds. And there are supporters coaches laid on for away games.
Mr Sansum added: "I myself have stood outside supermarkets with a bucket and raised money.
"The town is getting right behind the team, the consensus is we don't want to lose the club because it'll be bad for the town."
Become a member of the supporters club here.