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Article ID: 143
Birmingham City rally to beat Gary Newbon challenge
Birmingham City Ladies drew a crowd of 583 to their National Division clash against Doncaster Belles on Sunday, thus winning the ‘Gary Newbon challenge’. The Controller for Carlton Sport had laid down a challenge to the club to attract 500 people to the game after watching Blues lose to Charlton Athletic four weeks ago.
Saying that, ‘nobody in their right mind would pay to watch women’s football’, Newbon – famed for his football gaffs on air – said he would pay £500 and an extra £1 per person should Blues fulfil the challenge.
Birmingham City Ladies, who play outside of the city at Redditch United, have found it hard to attract fans to their home matches this season due to their geographical placing. However, a competent marketing/PR plan from the volunteers at the club, as well as having assistance from The FA’s PR agency for women’s football, Joe Public Relations, saw much interest in the match.
Blues Chairman Steve Shipway said: “It was an excellent day and I’ve had a lot of feedback since the game from girls’ teams writing in to say how much they enjoyed it.
“We managed to raise a few player sponsorships out of the game, including some money from two solicitors who stopped going to watch men’s football six years ago and said this match had reinstated their love of the game.”
As well as benefiting from extra sponsorship income, Birmingham City gave away free tickets for their next league game to encourage the new fans to watch regular top flight football.
“Gary Newbon has been brilliant through all this, despite his views on the game. This attendance proved that women’s football is growing and with some more support from the media, we can get bigger crowds.”
Birmingham City LFC
Doncaster Rovers Belles
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