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Friday, February 23, 2024
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Your New Favorite Soccer Team Has $20 Tickets and Seats 792

  • Maidstone United pulled off a historic victory in the FA Cup fourth round.
  • The team operates on a significantly smaller budget than its competitors.
USATSI

If you love watching Ryan Reynolds’s Wrexham or Ted Lasso’s Richmond take on the top dogs of English football and win, do we have the story for you. Two levels below Wrexham, in the National League South (five levels below the Premier League), sits Maidstone United, your new favorite football club, which toppled the Championship (second-tier) team Ipswich Town 2-1 on Saturday in the FA Cup fourth round. Further propelling the David-Goliath story-building: Maidstone’s two goals came off only two shots, compared to 38 by Ipswich.

The victory propels the Stones into the fifth round of English soccer’s in-season tournament, making it the lowest ranked team to do so since 1978. (Their next opponent: the winner of a Sheffield Wednesday-Coventry City replay next Tuesday. Both of those teams play in the English second-tier Championship.)

Here’s why this victory is so exceptional from a financial and logistical lens:

  • Home field Gallagher Stadium has a capacity of about 4,200: bleacher seating for 792 fans, plus standing room. (By comparison: Manchester United, which Maidstone could still face in the FA Cup, seats nearly 75,000 at its home.)
  • An adult ticket to attend a home match costs £17 (about $21.60). Kids under 11 get in free.
  • In October 2022, the club’s player budget was around £1 million (about $1.27 million), after increasing the budget by 50% from the year prior, according to its co-owner. (United’s salaries in 2024 total nearly £200,000.)
  • Player salaries in the National League (levels 5-6) average about £1,000 to £1,500 per week ($1,270 to $1,900).
  • The first iteration of Maidstone United closed in 1992 due to financial reasons.
  • The team only holds training two to three times a week.
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