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Blackpool make stunning gesture to non league club

League One club Blackpool make a stunning gesture to a non league club following last weekend’s FA Cup First Round proper ties.

The Tangerines have been praised for their “phenomenal” generosity in not charging their cup opponents for their travel expenses.

Blackpool made the 636-mile round-trip down to East Sussex as they faced Eastborough Borough for Sunday’s FA Cup fixture.

The 1953 FA Cup winners came into the game winning three of their last four games in League One and are now a step closer to reaching the Third Round of the cup for a fourth time in five seasons.

Gary Madine broke the deadlock early in the second half, getting on the end of James Husband’s cross from the left and lobbed a left-foot shot into the bottom-right corner.

He got on the scoresheet yet again 10 minutes later as he headed Jordan Gabriel’s free-kick to Jerry Yates, who then passed back for Madine to tap in.

Yates added a third in stoppage time with a great finish from a tight angle for his third goal of the season.

Neil Critchley’s side decided it was best to stay over in Eastbourne on Saturday night, having trained on the Priory Lane’s 4G pitch earlier in the day.

FA guidelines state that Blackpool would have been well in their right to claim for their share in travel expenses.

However, with Eastbourne being one of many non league sides struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic, those at the top of Blackpool FC chose not to charge their non league opposition for the “significant” expenses tab.

“Blackpool have stated they are not requesting any expenses for their recent visit to Eastbourne for the FA Cup tie on Sunday,” Boro’s chief executive John Bonar said in a statement.

“Ordinarily the process is that all expenses are added together and deducted from any gate receipts and then any profit split between the two clubs. Their expenses would have been significant and this is a phenomenal gesture for which we are very grateful.

“We tried our best to look after the players and directors of Blackpool during their short visit and treated them with the utmost respect they deserve, so to be recognised for our efforts with this goodwill gesture comes as a massive boost for everyone.

“Blackpool played their part in a day that will live long in the memory of everyone involved with the club, both on and off the pitch and we can’t thank them enough for their generosity, especially during this difficult time across the country.

“We wish Blackpool the best in their FA Cup venture and League One campaign this season, and hope we have built a good relationship with the club on and off the pitch moving forward.”

And if that wasn’t heartfelt enough, Blackpool fans also helped raise £2,100 for Eastbourne to make up for the cash they would have otherwise received had the game been played in front of a bumper crowd.

Club officials suggested it was likely as much as 4,000 fans would have gone through the turnstiles for that game had it not been played behind closed doors.

The cup tie, which was described as the biggest game in the National League South side’s 55-year history, will have raised around £40,000 for the club, something that some many sides in non league could do with in order to survive and pay bills.

The amount consists of broadcast fees, due to the game being televised by BT Sport, and prize money – with clubs also benefiting financially even if they lost the tie this season due to the lack of gate receipts.

David Blackmore, Eastbourne’s chief executive, posted a message of thanks on Blackpool fans’ forum Another View From The Tower.

“On behalf of everyone at Eastbourne Borough FC I would just like to say a huge THANK YOU,” he wrote.

“The fundraising was brilliant and we will be forever grateful, however our thanks go way beyond that. These forums always split opinion about every club but I can tell you that you support a club that oozes class.

“Throughout the build up to Sunday’s game, during and after, everybody involved in Blackpool FC, from supporters, club officials, media, management team and players have treated us as a club with the utmost respect both on and off the field. This takes a special kind of class when there is such a big gap between our clubs.

“Blackpool FC and its supporters will always hold a special place for Eastbourne Borough and we genuinely hope that we will be able to organise a pre-season friendly so that the fans of both our clubs can get together to create the magic again.

“Good luck for the rest of the season and thank you again for being Blackpool FC.”

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