Hastings United boss urges town to back team in relegation fight

The chairman of Hastings United football club is urging the town to get behind his team as it faces a fight for survival both on and off the pitch.

Dave Walters wants the people of Hastings to be the 12th man as they fight to stay in the Ryman Premier League.

And with two games left to play, there has never been a bigger call to back his boys.

“We could go out of business,” warned Mr Walters. “Even another 50 people through the gate would make a difference.”

United are locked in relegation fight to stay in the Ryman Premier League after another difficult season.

Tomorrow they make a 330 mile round trip to high-flying Lowestoft in Suffolk.

Next Saturday the Met Police team visit Pilot Field in what could be a must-win match for Sean Ray’s side.

Mr Walters, chairman for eight years, says he has been disappointed by the lack of support from the town and beyond.

This season’s average gate has dropped by 100 compared to two years ago. In 2009/10 up to 475 fans came through the gates.

A drop into the Ryman Division One South could see gates plummet even further with a loss of much needed revenue.

Mr Walters said the club can not afford to stay at Pilot Field for much longer as it is struggling to pay the maintenance costs of the ageing ground.

Mr Walters said he has also been disappointed by the lack of support from local schools.

Despite invited every school and college in the borough to a free match day experience, only Claremont had taken up the offer. The club provides a half-time game for the children and they can also be mascots and ball collectors on the day.

United has a free entry policy for under 18s but the majority of the crowd are still ageing fans.

Mr Walters said: “We’re fighting a losing battle. I have been surprised by the lack of support in a town this size.

“Survival is a constant issue. I have warned that we can’t survive at the Pilot Field. The maintenance is too expensive.

“And dropping down a division will lead to less income and less wages for the players.

“The club go out of business in the coming years - it just gets harder and harder every year.

“I don’t know if the town really wants a football club.

“We get about 375 through the gates and most of them are older generation. We offered a free matchday experience for school and only one took up the offer.

“It’s a great form of entertainment and we want young people to grow up with the club in their veins.

“The last home game may be crucial and we need the support of this town to help us survive.”

United play Met Police at Pilot Field next Saturday (Apr 28) with a 3pm kick off. Admission is £9 for adults and free for under 18s. For more information contact the club on 444635