HEREFORD chairman Jon Hale sees Friday’s FA Cup game as way of attracting new fans back to Edgar Street regularly.

Some 4,150 Hereford fans are set to pack a sold-out Bulls ground for their first round tie - around double their average attendance.

While Hale expects the visit of League One Portsmouth to be a special occasion he also hopes to attract supporters to return for more regular matches.

“Any game under the lights here is a special occasion so to have this place full is going to be incredible,” said Hale.

“For us long-time fans to see the club in the spotlight is brilliant. My hope is that if 500 fans who come to that game, who don’t normally come, continue and stick with us that can only be a good thing for the football club and therefore the FA Cup run will continue to do us well and not just the evening.

“We have to make sure we look after Portsmouth and their supporters (750 fans in the away end). But also look after our own fans and perhaps those that don’t come here very often. We want to make sure they have the very best matchday experience.

“It’s important that when they do come here they have the very best night possible.”

The FA Cup tie will be shown live on BBC bringing in welcome television money along with sponsorship opportunities on the night and a sold-out gate.

After several years where Covid-19 saw the club firstly play games behind closed doors during the pandemic and then in front of reduced gates as fans gradually returned, the FA Cup draw is a massive one for the football club financially.

“I know they say it’s the luck of the draw but I think we’ve deserved a bit of luck and I’m delighted for everybody,” added Hale.

“There’s no doubt at all we were hit financially (during Covid). We would have liked to have had a little more help from the authorities, but there wasn’t. So you have to get on with that and live to your means. It was very tough financially last season.

“This gives us the chance to get back on an even keel at the very least. We’re not grabbing money but working with the local community, businesses and partnerships to make them part of a very special occasion.

“We all looked at Kidderminster (Harriers) last season and were all a little bit green with envy with their exploits, they did fantastically well and made a lot of money.

“We are seeing a bit of that this season. It feels as though it’s our turn this time and we’re going to make the most of it.

“There has been fantastic interest in the game, commercially it does us an awful lot of good and to have the (television) cameras here so we can showcase us as a football club, a ground and as a community.

“There are so many positives and I think everybody is working very hard to make sure we grasp every opportunity.”