Dane Murphy says the more than 7,000 Barnsley fans who bought season tickets during the lockdown ‘changed the trajectory’ of the club, inspiring players to fight even harder for survival and providing a seven-figure injection of cash which prevented potential financial disaster. 

The coronavirus crisis and the subsequent lockdown is thought to have cost the Reds more than £1million as they had to offer a refund on the remaining games and discounted season tickets while they also lost out on money from sponsorship and concessions on matchday. 

Murphy, the chief executive, says the club is ’not out of the water’ but adds ‘we should be OK’ due to the backing of the fans in May and June through season ticket sales followed by last week’s dramatic survival in the Championship.  Murphy told the Chronicle: “The fact that our supporters backed us in the way they did completely changed the trajectory. This is their club. A couple of players on Wednesday night said that the fans doing that was an inspiration for them. 

“The way the fans have supported the club financially through times that no one foresaw, and no one knows where this is going, is unbelievable. The fact that they believe so strongly in their community and their club really makes you want to continue to work in a place where the club will always have a backing of the fans. We’re at around 7,500 season tickets. Our community has shown faith in their club and their badge. 

“Players, managers and ownership come and go but the fans remain and they showed they believe in the hardest of times. We can’t thank them enough”

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Barnsley put most of their non-footballing staff on furlough but topped up their wages to 100 per cent.  Speaking earlier in the crisis, Murphy said that July would be a month when the Reds may struggle to make it through financially. This week, after Clarke Oduor’s goal kept the Reds up, he said: “There has been a substantial loss for the obvious reasons of fans not being in the stadiums, no concessions, putting things out late and sponsorship deals. 

“We were heavily impacted and it’s continuing to affect us. But I have to applaud our investors and workforce for navigating these unknown waters and it seems as though we are on the right path.  It’s not a clear picture and we’re not out of the water. But July was the trickiest month and we’ve been able to manoeuvre our financials to get things in line. We should be OK. 

“The last time the club was relegated, there was a difference in revenue of between six and seven million pounds. In the background of a pandemic – and we had no idea these financial constraints were going to be placed on us – to say staying up is massive is underselling it. Clarke’s goal completely changes our ability to move forward as a club and also our perspective as a group, a supporter base and a staff and playing group.

“It has a monumental impact not only on the financial and logistical side but as a mentality because we fought until the very last minute of the very last game.  “It completely changes the belief around the club from top to bottom.”

Fans are due to return to stadiums in October, but it is not clear yet whether all 7,500 season ticket holders will be able to attend. Murphy said: “We don’t have direct protocols from the government or the league. We are working towards ideas but, until we have more details, we can’t put plans in place. It depends on the social distancing rules that are in place at the time but, from my perspective and mine alone, I think that the first people allowed through the gate should be season ticket holders. If we can provide a safe space, I would love to see our fans back as soon as possible.”