The magic of the FA Cup: two Suffolk clubs banking big prize money and dreaming of a possible Ipswich clash
- Credit: Archant
BURY TOWN and LEISTON have already earned more than £12,000 apiece in prize money alone, from this season’s FA Cup. Football writer CARL MARSTON talks to Bury chairman Russell Ward about the financial boost of the current cup run
Both Bury Town and Leiston are just one step away from a potential FA Cup meeting with either Ipswich Town or Colchester United, a mouth-watering prospect.
And following this lunchtime’s fourth qualifying round draw, Ben Chenery’s Bury have been drawn away to Banbury United, a Southern League Premier Central outfit based in Oxfordshire. Needham Market drew 1-1 at Banbury last weekend.
Leiston, meanwhile, have a glamorous home draw against Barnet, of the National League.
And Maldon & Tiptree, who beat Braintree Town in the previous round, will be at home to Haringey Borough.
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Two of Suffolk’s leading non-league clubs have already banked some very welcome prize money from this year’s competition, especially in light of the current constraints due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Bury’s home fixtures have all hit the new 400-capacity mark, set due to the pandemic restrictions, with each fixture being all-ticket and quickly sold out.
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The fact that the Blues could have attracted even bigger crowds, and so generate even more income, has been offset by the club’s terrific FA Cup run.
In all, the Ram Meadow outfit have accumulated £12,694 in prize money already, following four wins.
And they will scoop a further £9,375 if they can defy the odds to win their fourth qualifying round tie at Banbury, to reach the first round proper.
They will get £3,125 if they bow out at this stage of the competition, which would still guarantee a final haul of £15,819.
No wonder, then, that progressing through another round in the FA Cup could pave the way for one of the most lucrative matches in the West Suffolk club’s history.
Bury banked £1,444 in prize money from their preliminary round win at Cogenhoe United (1-0 away), and followed this up by collecting £2,250 from their first qualifying round success over Brightlingsea Regent (2-1 win at home) and £3,375 from their 4-1 victory over Waltham Abbey in the next round.
Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over visiting Nuneaton Borough, achieved in front of another all-ticket 400-strong crowd, ensured a further £5,625, leading to a current grand total of £12,694, in prize money alone.
Across the county, Leiston have likewise accrued the same amount of prize money due to their wins over Halstead Town (5-0), Biggleswade Town (5-1), Leighton Town (2-1 away) and AFC Telford United (a thrilling 9-8 penalty shoot-out success after a 0-0 draw on Tuesday evening).
And Leiston’s home encounter with former Football League club Barnet is a cracking tie to look forward to.
Being in the hat for the first round proper, even with the current situation of EFL and National League clubs being unable to have spectators in their grounds, would be a major achievement for both Bury Town and Leiston, with the likes of Ipswich, Sunderland, Bolton, Hull, Wigan and Colchester all entering at this stage.
Bury Town chairman Russell Ward enthused: “Tuesday night was another big night for the club.
“Of course our run in the FA Cup is going to end at some time, but everyone is enjoying while it lasts.
“The lads are so close knit this year, even more so than last year, and its an amazing thing to have at Ram Meadow, something we had several years ago.
“Obviously the prize money is a big help, and the fact that we will earn another £3,125 even if we were to lose in the next round is a big boost for us.
“But it’s not just about the prize money. There is all the add-ons, with the bar and food takings, and the gate money, which is split 50:50 with the opposing club after expenses.
“We are getting maximum crowds of 400 for every home game, and we have now got 160 to 170 season ticket holders, which is unbelievable.
“It’s almost double our season ticket holders from last season, and people have been buying them this week as well, both and after the game (against Nuneaton Borough).
“Of course we would have preferred a home draw, but at least we have avoided an away tie at a Step One or Step Two club, where no crowds are allowed.
“We’d have loved a home draw, but I guess we were about due an away tie, and at least it’s at a club from Step Three or below,” added chairman Ward.
The draw for the fourth qualifying round took place this lunchtime, with the ties due to take place on Saturday, October 24.