A FOOTBALL fan has raised more than £1,000 by organising a weekly prize draw to help a club pay its players through the coronavirus pandemic.

Andy Clarke has organised a 50/50 draw, which would normally feature at each Darlington Football Club home game, whereby fans buy a ticket for £1 and at half time, a ticket is pulled out.

The winner would take 50 per cent of the prize money, with the rest going to the fan-owned football club.

The 22-year-old, who used to be a ball boy at the Northern Echo Arena, said: “As a fan owned club we do not have large cash reserves, or a rich owner we can turn to, to get us through this period of no income.

“As the 50/50 is such a success on a match day, I thought it would be a good idea to hold a virtual 50/50 to help raise some money and ensure the players got paid in full.” Tickets are £1 and have no purchase limit.

Once paid, Mr Clarke allocates numbers and hosts a live draw on Saturday evenings via Twitter.

Football fans across the region and country have got involved, including Man City, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Brackley, Kings Lynn and Chester.

Darlington FC has furloughed its players but is topping up the government allowance 20 per cent to ensure players are paid in full.

“We need money for somewhere but it is so good to get to do something a little but more than just donating.” Mr Clarke, who works in recruitment, said.

“Football means so much to so many in Darlington. We do not have an owner to help us through this, it’s all the fan’s money. We are set up quite well for a virus really because fans are used to helping the club out.

"But a lot of other clubs so not have that and are used to turning to a chairman or director, we’ve never had that luxury. That first game back is going to be amazing and really busy.”

A club spokesman said: “We are very grateful for all the fundraising that Andy has done for the club during this difficult time.”