Macclesfield Town’s hopes to raise £20,000 by offering one person the chance to play for the club next season have been dashed as the club withdrew the offer.
The club were offering a 10-minute spell in either a Conference Premier or cup fixture for males between the ages of 18 and 35, but quickly retracted their decision after it raised issue of ‘integrity’.
“The ‘pay to play’ proposal was one of many innovative ideas that have been considered in the last few weeks to raise both funds and interest in the club,” read a statement on the club’s website. “It was intended to be a light-hearted idea that would be of interest only to our local media.
“We now recognise that, whatever controls are put in place, it creates a possibility of altering the outcome of a competitive fixture and as such, clearly crosses an important line with respect to the integrity of the game. We are therefore withdrawing the offer and would like to apologise unreservedly to the football authorities and to the Football Conference for our error of judgement in this matter.”
Macclesfield Town associate director Andy Scott had earlier said the offer was a “wonderful opportunity” for a football fan, while helping the club manage its crippling debts.
The Cheshire club ended last season £500,000 in debt.
“We haven’t got Manchester United’s bank balance. We’ve got Macclesfield Town’s bank balance, which is pretty desperate to say the least at the moment,” Scott told BBC Radio Manchester. “If the club was in a strong financial position, perhaps we wouldn’t even consider it.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for somebody to step forward and go down in the history of English football.
“If it’s 1-1 with 10 minutes to go in a big cup game, we wouldn’t even risk it. If we’re 3-0 up with 10 minutes to go and [manager] John [Askey] feels as though he can put this guy on, he’ll give it a go. It will be a wonderful experience for somebody.”
Askey agreed, telling the Macclesfield Express he would never sacrifice the dignity of the club for a simple stunt.
“What we don’t want is for it to become farcical, but I don’t think it will hinder or restrict the team – far from it,” he said. “We wouldn’t be doing it if there was any danger of that.
“For me, pulling the Macc shirt on for the first time was an extremely proud day and massive achievement.”
Macclesfield Town were relegated from League Two last year, ending their 15-year association with the Football League, and finished in 11th position in the Conference last season. However, the club did reach the fourth round of the FA Cup – their best-ever performance in the competition.