Football fans have criticised their club after Polish locals were offered an 80 per cent discount on match tickets.
Bath City Football Club is hoping to lure in the growing local migrant population as it attempts to boost attendance levels.
Local Poles can now buy a ticket for as little as £2.50 compared to £13 for all other nationalities for a terrace view or £14 for a seat.
Bosses say they are simply ”reaching out” to a minority group and the move has been cleared by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
But some fans say the policy amounts to racial discrimination and the club should be rewarding its followers instead.
One supporter, named only as Lord Bear, wrote on fans’ forum www.ilovebathcity.com: ”I’ve just been accosted by an outraged city semi regular complaining that he is really pi**ed off by the Polish initiative.
”He doesn’t have a lot of money himself but will still come to the Grimsby match. He simply feels alienated and let down by the club.
”He would object to any group getting preferential treatment over the loyal fan base, including the armed forces.”
Another fan, JC, wrote on a website: ”I see what they are trying to do, but to offer such a huge discount to one small community is plain wrong.
”The people who have loyally supported City through the lean years, and the regulars who have come back due to Conference football are the ones who should be rewarded, not one small community, the majority of whom will not return in the future.”
Supporter Charles2011 wrote: ”This is another kick in the teeth for City’s full paying English supporters and i don’t want to stand next to anybody who’s bought a ticket cheaper than mine because they are polish.”
The promotion is part of Bath City FC’s ‘Campaign 3,000’ to have its first 3,000 plus crowd at a regular league match since 1978.
Officials hope to double the average attendance of 1,300 at the home league clash with Grimsby Town next Saturday (19/03).
More than 800 posters have been distributed around the city and weeks of campaigning has taken place by the club in its attempts to achieve the target.
The idea has been cleared with watchdogs at the Equality and Human Rights Commission but some fans claim it breaches the Race Relations Act 1976.
But Bath City Communications and Enterprise manager Ned Vaught defended the project, saying other groups in the community, such as students, had also been targeted.
He said: ”One of the ideas that had been floating around for a while was to try and involve Bath’s Polish community in the club.
”I have met a prominent member of the local Polish community and he was enthusiastic about the idea because the Polish community suffers from a lack of integration.
”Polish fans are normally enthusiastic football supporters, but in general have not adopted their local teams when moving to the UK.
”We were already planning a substantial discount for Bath’s student population for project 3,000 so I proposed rolling in the outreach to the Polish community as well.
”The Equality and Human Rights Commission emailed me to say that this was all right to do, so everything seemed set.
”To be fair to our fans, I don’t think anyone has objected to the club reaching out to a local minority.
”The fact that we have offered a discount, though, appears to have offended some.
”It is asking people who have no contact with the club to give us a try. This won’t get us to the 3,000 mark by itself. In fact, it is really the least significant of the initiatives we are pursuing.
”It is, however, the only one that is as much about doing good for the community as it is filling the ground.”
Famous film director and City fan Ken Loach also welcomed the club’s call to the Polish community.
He said: ”It is a good idea, I hope they will chant in Polish. There is a fantastic opportunity on the playing side and we just want to boost the attendance.”
The club currently sits in 14th place in the BlueSquare Bet Premier League, one division below the Football League.
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