Chichester City would have been in big trouble without FA Cup windfall

Chichester City chairman Andy Bell has outlined how cash from their famous FA Cup run has kept them going.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 11:00 am
Chichester City at Tranmere - where their famous 2019 FA Cup run ended / Picture: Neil Holmes

Chichester City chairman Andy Bell has outlined how cash from their famous FA Cup run has kept them going.

Bell said the long period in lockdown meant that without the thousands the club earned in prize money and TV income during the 2019 run, they could have faced dropping back down the non-league pyramid – or even gone bust.

As it is, City are looking forward to a third season at their highest ever level, the Isthmian south east division, and hoping that plans for a new 3G pitch at their Oaklands Park home will help make them sustainable.

Chi earned more than £150,000 in their 2019-20 FA Cup run as they got through seven rounds to reach the second round proper for the first time in their history.

The saga included a first round bye, which itself made them £36,000, and ended in a 5-1 defeat at Tranmere Rovers, then of League One, which was shown live on BT Sport.

As City get ready to return to action for the 2021-22 season and welcome fans back into the ground, chairman Bell said the FA Cup money had been a real lifeline.

“Without it we could have gone bust, or at least not had the budget to remain in the Isthmian League for a second season,” he said.

“We have been able to use it to keep things going and do work required for ground grading purposes and it’s been a real God-send.

“But moving forward, we need the 3G pitch in order to become sustainable at this level of football.

“We have one of the lowest budgets this year – there are county league teams who pay out more than we do.

“And over time you need to gradually become more self-sufficient, which is what we’re trying to do.”

Although City’s first team squad have not had any league or cup football to reconvene for, other teams at the club have been back in action.

The club’s women’s team – in their first season together – could finish third in the Sussex Women’s League premier division and have applied for promotion.

And the under-23s have reached the final of their SCFL Shield competition. They beat Horley on penalties on Tuesday night and will face Newhaven or Pagham in the final next Thursday at a venue to be confirmed.

Bell said: “It’s been great that some of our teams have been able to play, and they’ve done well, putting themselves in the frame for end of season honours.

“As for the first team, we’ll have the same four-strong management team in place next season and we hope most of last season’s squad will remain with us.”

One player who’s benefitted from the under-23 matches is forward Callum Overton, who has played as he continues his comeback fro a long-term knee injury and will be pushing for first-XI starts when 2021-22 begins.