Forget Real Madrid’s £86m for Gareth Bale. Why not get paid to watch Bungay Town on Non-League Day

Gareth Bale. Photo: PA.

Gareth Bale. Photo: PA. - Credit: PA

Bungay Town are planning to follow their superb start to the season with a big impact on a much-loved date in the football calendar – by paying fans to watch them play.

As has become tradition, the first international break of the season – when fans of Premier League and Championship sides have a free weekend – will signal Non-League Day, encouraging those supporters from across the country to check out their local lower league side.

And come today's big occasion, Anglian Combination Division Two leaders Bungay are planning to do something special, inspired by the recent closing of the summer transfer window – pay fans 5p each to sample the Black Dogs in action at Maltings Meadow.

'On reflection of the stupid amounts of money being paid out at the top level of the game, we are paying 5p for fans to come in,' said Town vice-chairman Shaun Cole.

'The fee Real Madrid paid for Gareth Bale (£85.3m) would pay for the entire populations of China, the USA and the Bahamas to come and watch Bungay Town play.'

Non-League Day was set up by James Doe in 2010 as a social media experiment, after being inspired by a pre-season trip to Devon to watch Queens Park Rangers play at Tavistock – and is now backed by the likes of Premier League and Football League clubs, MPs and charities as a way of supporting 40,000 semi-professional and amateur clubs across the UK. Bungay have a 100pc record and top the table after four games, heading into today's clash (2.30pm KO) with pointless Brandon Town.

Their plight is in stark contrast to troubled Watton United whose senior players at the 120-year-old club have had to drop four divisions amid fears the outfit could fold because of its debts.

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United, who has been playing since 1893, was fielding four sides last season, at a cost of about £12,000 per year. But it was forced to withdraw its first team from the top division of the Anglian Combination and is now fielding a merged side in the fifth division, where the reserves were playing last season. The club could no longer afford its top-flight status due to debts which last year stood at £1,700.

Paul Woods, 32, the vice chairman and fixtures secretary, said the reason for the financial shortfall was because 'the players were playing but weren't paying'. Half of the club's funding relies on the money from players paying their £10 monthly membership, which goes towards renting the ground from Watton Sports Centre.

Higher up the game's pyramid, two of the areas Thurlow Nunn League sides will be playing in the FA Vase first qualifying round. Managerless Downham Town visit Boston Town while Norwich United travel to Haverhill Borough.