Last year more than two-thirds of Football League clubs told the BBC they were worried about their financial health.
“These are very challenging economic times and football is no more insulated from the effects of the recession than any other sector,” a Football League spokesman said.
And only this week Sky and BT Sport paid a record £5.136bn for live Premier League TV rights for three years.
That’s an eye-watering £10million a match, or to put it another way, Cheltenham Town’s salary bill for the next 10 years.
So Seachange producer Murry Toms quickly tried something a little different for the Robins, his hometown club currently rooted to the bottom of the league.
He threw up a Crowdfunder campaign, poking fun at Manchester United’s recent failure to beat to Cambridge United in the FA Cup. Lowly Cheltenham had won their earlier in the season, so we had a little play with that.
The project to plaster the message across a massive town centre billboard captured the imagination and was funded in a little over 10 hours, and soon seen by over 15 million people across the world.
It was designed, printed and slapped up inside six days and was written about in Mexico, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, and caught the eye of presenter Rebecca Lowe in the NBC Super Bowl studio in Phoenix, USA.
But most importantly it generated a huge amount of awareness of the club’s plight within the town.
— Charlie Boss (@Charlie_Boss) January 30, 2015
“How often do we get to celebrate clever reactive marketing in the Football League? Not enough – well done @CTFCofficial’” tweeted Charlie Boss, Head of Marketing at ESPN.
A fortnight on, the stretch target has been hit and a second board promoting the club’s upcoming fixtures has been booked as they battle with relegation.
“It’s the same story at clubs across the country, with players’ wages going up and attendances falling,” said Murry.
“Small marketing and media departments are stretched, so Crowdfunder offers a real alternative for supporters to do something positive instead of taking to forums and social media for a good old moan.”