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FA Cup exit to Harrogate could cost Torquay United £50,000

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

By DAVID THOMAS

NICHOLSON V HARROGATE

Torquay United's Kevin Nicholson in action against Harrogate. Picture by Torbay News Agency

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WHO KNOWS what might have happened in the Second Round, but Torquay United's FA Cup defeat by Harrogate Town may well have cost the club up to £50,000.

United officials were hoping to make £30,000 from Saturday's First Round tie, in prizemoney and gate receipts.

The attendance was a disappointing 1,817 – more of that later – and the £18,000 cash reward for victory headed back up to North Yorkshire.

Harrogate promptly drew an inviting Second Round tie at home to Isthmian League Premier club Hastings United.

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There's prizemoney of £27,000 on offer there and, if they'd beaten Harrogate, the Gulls would certainly have expected a bigger gate than last Saturday, whoever they played.

Whichever way you look at it, the Harrogate defeat was a costly result, and manager Martin Ling was quick to admit that it will hardly help his efforts to strengthen the squad later in the season.

But the Plainmoor board are a supportive lot, and they will do their best to brush aside this disappointment and give some Ling some fresh 'ammo' if he needs it, either in the January transfer window or before the loan market closes at the end of March. Of course, much depends on how gates go from now until then.

Saturday's attendance may have dismayed some people, but United were always going to do well to beat 2,000.

With all due respect, Harrogate weren't 'must see' opposition, it was an all-pay day even for season-ticket holders and many clubs around the country suffered even bigger drops on their league average.

Gate receipts are split 50/50 between the two clubs up to the Third Round and 45/45 (10% to the FA 'Pool') thereafter, so there is a reluctance to countenance reductions in prices.

But there is a growing trend of early-round apathy in all cup competitions, especially in times of financial hardship.

And much as everyone loves the traditions, dramas and life-changing possibilities of the FA Cup, it's not immune from the pressures that everyone out there is feeling.

DAVID THOMAS

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