Published: 10:20, 03 July 2020
| Updated: 11:39, 03 July 2020
A football club have transformed their ground into the 'biggest beer garden' in Kent in an attempt to cope with huge losses suffered during the pandemic.
Faversham Town FC have lost between £50,000 and £70,000 due to the coronavirus - but hope to recoup some of that by offering the "safest environment" for people wanting to enjoy a drink while avoiding cramped pubs.
The football club, based in Salters Lane, Faversham, receive no government funding, instead relying on income from tickets and events to keep running.
Board member Richard Parry said: "During the summer, we have our beer festival and Pride Festival, and big teams like Gillingham come down and play friendlies with us during the closed season. We make a lot of money out of that, and it generally funds us for the year.
"This year, we've lost all of that.
"All the football matches are cancelled - we don't know when we'll be playing again. We've got over 500 youngsters. We're huge in terms of youth training but get no government support at all, so we've got to make some money.
"We had to do something to try and keep the club going. We sat down and decided we can offer the safest environment for people who want to have a drink but don't want to go to the local pubs."
Mr Parry stresses the idea is centred around safety. "It's a lovely little town where we live, but all the buildings are medieval and tight, with very small toilets and corridors," he said.
"Whereas we've got a three-acre site, where people can spread out and be metres and metres away from each other but still part of something.
"The beer garden's in our end field. We've moved the bar outside so the staff are much safer and we've got a marquee set up.
"We've got tables and have cut the grass and made it all lovely. We've also got massive toilets, built for a 2,000 people stadium, with a one-way system in and out.
"We can provide the safest environment and that's what it's all about.
"We've agreed with police to restrict the number this weekend because they're concerned that it's going to be a very busy weekend"
"We don't want to attract youngsters up there who just want to bounce around and throw beer around - that's not what it's about," he added.
The beer garden will run from midday until 6pm every Sunday. It is set to run for eight weeks but will go on for longer if the football season is delayed.
Its capacity will be capped at a maximum of 500 people, to maximise social distancing.
But this Sunday - on what is expected to be a busy weekend for pubs across the country - capacity will be capped at 200 people.
"We've agreed with police to restrict the number this weekend because they're concerned that it's going to be a very busy weekend," said Mr Parry.
Almost 90 people have already signed up to attend, since the plans were announced on Wednesday.
Entry is free but visitors must pre-register online.
The bar will accept card-only transactions.
Car parking is only available for disabled customers with a valid blue badge.
Children are welcome, provided they are accompanied by a responsible adult and do not enter the beer marquee.
To register, visit kentsbiggestbeergarden.co.uk.