Borussia Monchengladbach are set to roll out 13,000 personalised cardboard supporters – an initiative that could provide a financial lifeline for lower-league clubs in England.
Gladbach’s Borussia Park hosts its first Bundeisga match behind closed doors against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, with non-league Lewes the first team on these shores to join the ‘Stay at Home; Be at the Game’ scheme.
The Isthmian Premier League outfit, a fan-owned club with 1,600 shareholders, are set to offer supporters the opportunity to mark their presence at The Dripping Pan when football returns.
Fans will be asked to donate money as part of a crowdfunding exercise, with a minimum price for a cut-out likely to stand at around £20.
That could bring in thousands in additional revenue for clubs struggling over the coming months.
Lewes marketing director Charlie Dobres hopes to sell out the ground’s capacity of 3,000 and believes the scheme will help bolster lower-league finances at a time of strive.
‘Financially we are relatively OK, but we’re keen to find new ways to create revenue streams when there is no football,’ Dobres said.
‘This could be a lifeline for clubs. If nothing is done, this could be an extinction-level event for clubs. It’s a really great scheme, a personalised way for fans to show support to a community asset.
‘It’s likely that football will come back behind closed doors next season so whenever the faces are installed, they can be seen on broadcasts. Whether it’s on a non-league team’s YouTube channel or our women’s team in the Championship on the television.’
Tom Hickson co-founder of Stay at Home; Be at the Game, said: ‘We are in talks with some Premier League clubs, alongside the NBA and MLS in America.
‘We invite other clubs and sporting bodies big and small to get in touch and get involved. This project will give the fans a boost, the club some revenue and in England a healthy donation to the NHS in the fight against COVID-19.’
Marvin Symes, co-founder, added: ‘We are delighted to have Ingo, the Borussia Monchengladbach super fan who started this concept, as part of our team.’