The initiative involves fans paying for printed photos of themselves to be installed at their favourite sports clubs.
“Cheltenham Town approached us two or three weeks ago when it was announced that the [English Football League] play offs were likely to go ahead,” said Typecraft sales and production director Matt Magovern.
“Teams in Germany had done something similar and Cheltenham Town wanted to be the first in the country to do it here.”
Magovern said that as a Robins fan for 30 years, he immediately said yes.
The League Two club then launched a crowdfunding initiative to enable fans to take part.
So far the club has raised more than £21,000 with over 600 pledges, which translates to well over 700 ‘fans’ set to adorn the club’s Jonny-Rocks Stadium when it plays the home leg of the League Two Play Off semi-final, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks. It’s hoping to have more than 1,000 fans installed come matchday.
The club is donating 10% of the campaign’s profits domestic violence charity Hollie Gazzard Trust.
Cheltenham based wide-format and commercial printer Typecraft, which is part of the Finnick Group, is yet to produce the first masks as the crowdfunding campaign is ongoing.
However, Magovern said it’s fully geared up to print the uploaded head and shoulders images of fans on 3mm Foamex on its Agfa Anapurna M2500i UV hybrid flatbed press and cut them on its recently installed Esko Kongsberg X24 1.6x3.2m flatbed cutter.
“It’s only a small club, but it has always been really good at crowdfunding and they’ve smashed it again here. And it’s a pretty easy job for us, we’ve got templates set up, so when the images come in they will just fly through,” he said.
Once the play offs are complete, the prints will be signed by members of the football club and made available to fans to keep.
According to Magovern, Typecraft had a pre-existing relationship with the club, producing matchday programmes and other collateral, and has been a strong supporter, reinvesting any profits from club related projects into sponsorship and corporate hospitality.
Typecraft’s efforts have been broadcast on news segments on BBC and ITV regional news segments. You can see the BBC News report here.
As a result Typecraft has already been approached by a number of other clubs and sporting venues looking to replicate Cheltenham Town FC’s initiative.
Magovern said the firm’s work had picked up significantly. At one point in the early days of lockdown he was the only member of the firm’s 18-full and part-time staff working in the factory, but six are now back from furlough and the firm is “really busy” on the wide-format side of the business producing a range of jobs including back to work signage and graphics.
“We’ve had some lovely jobs come in on the large-format side, the commercial side is ticking over, but it’s chock-a-block on large-format. We’ve got some nice customers around here,” he said.
Separately another Cheltenham wide-format printer, Signcraft, is also supporting the football club by producing wide-format vinyl banners three feet high to and between eight and 32 feet wide for businesses that support the crowdfunder scheme, with the banners displayed in the ground.
While the two wide-format firms are unconnected, Magovern said they regularly work together.