Raith fans pitch in to ease financial strain on income-starved club
Raith Rovers supporters have stepped in to help the board of directors through a difficult financial period by making a sizeable donation to the club coffers.
Postponements and fixture rescheduling has left Rovers starved of income with only one home match taking place at Stark’s Park between October 29 and December 17.
That match - a midweek game against Ayr United - attracted a low crowd of just over 1200 leaving the Rovers board to face significant cashflow challenges in the lead up to Christmas.
However, three supporters groups - the Jim McMillan Club, the 200 Club and the Raith Trust - have teamed up to ease the strain on the Kirkcaldy club by making a joint donation totalling £14,000.
Raith chief executive Eric Drysdale was delighted to accept the generous contribution, particularly since the supporters groups did so without being asked.
“We are extremely indebted to them,” he said. “We didn’t ask for this - this is something that was volunteered by the respecitve organisations.
“They’ve rallied round and it really does make a difference - it compensates for the loss of the Morton game this Saturday.
“We’ve had a difficult time since the middle of October and by the time we play Dundee United on December 17 we’ll have gone more than two full months without a Saturday 3.00 p.m kick-off at home.
“We do our best to ensure that we have funds available but this is an extraordinary period of time to be without a home game - it’s like another close season.
“It’s a struggle so the contribution from these supporters organisations is very gratefully received and will help us keep things ticking over.”
The donation point to the good rapport that currently exists between the supporters groups and the board of the directors.
“None of these organisations have massive memberships but they are all loyal Rovers supporters and they see that the club is gradually trying to move in the right direction,” he said.
“There’s efforts being made to make the player development fund a success and we’ve taken the step to offer the cheapest admission prices for most games in the Championship.
“We are at the right end of the league table along with clubs that are bigger than us with significantly bigger supports, but you can’t put a price on the level of loyalty that these supporters organisations are showing us just now.
“Hibs have 11,000 season ticket holders, Dundee United have nearly 5000, Falkirk have 3000 - we have 1200 and we’re on a par with all of them at the moment in terms of what we’re delivering on the pitch, and for most games, we’re delivering it cheaper than any of our opponents.
“We must be doing something right but it’s an almighty struggle to make ends meet. It always has been and always will be until such time as we can grow the support.”
Raith’s biggest challenge remains attracting lapsed supporters back to Stark’s Park following a downward trend in average attendances.
“There’s a very loyal core but we need to do all we can to grow the fan base,” he said.
“The Roary Club has made considerable progress in attracting the next generation of supporters and has over 500 members.
“That’s building for the future but there is a gap just now and there are people who, for whatever reason, have become disillusioned with football, and perhaps Raith Rovers as well, and have moved on.
“There’s a generation of adults that have become disengaged with the club and it’s difficult to win them back - that’s why we do what we can on pricing.
“We still struggle to get the lapsed supporters back but we hope they do turn up for games in January because there’s going to be some crackers in there, and get the bug again.”
Raith will hope to recoup lost income in January where there could be potentially five home matches, including the mouth-watering Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Hearts, and the rescheduled Morton match, although no date has yet been agreed.
With no match this weekend the Raith squad are planning a closed-doors friendly match to keep the players match fitness up ahead of the trip to St Mirren on December 10.
Meanwhile, Rovers are hoping to spread some Christmas cheer after teaming up with a local charity.
The club – and the Raith Rovers Community Foundation – will be supporting Forth One Mission Christmas.
Around 55000 kids in Edinburgh, Lothians and Fife will wake up without a gift from Santa, so the club is asking for the Rovers family to help out.
Supporters can drop off new and unwrapped gifts at the Stark’s Park office, Monday to Friday, during office hours up to and including December 12.
The gifts should be suitable for children and young people aged up to 18 years.