Altrincham FC will wear a rainbow coloured kit in a competitive fixture in support of football’s fight against homophobia, in a move they say will create “a small moment of football history”.
The non-league side’s usual red and white stripes will be replaced with the colours of the LGBT pride flag for their National League North fixture at home to Bradford (Park Avenue) on February 16.
“We believe it will be the first time anywhere in the world that a senior football club has worn a kit solely modelled on the LGBT Pride Flag,” club chairman Bill Waterson told the club’s website.
“And Altrincham will, therefore, be creating a small moment of football history.”
Mr Waterson told the Press Association feedback from Altrincham fans about the kit has been positive, and he would like to see bigger clubs to follow their example.
“Football is our national sport and therefore it is part of our national identity, and attendance at football matches should at least reflect the nation as a whole,” he said.
“It would be good to have other role models and ones which can reach a bigger audience than we can.
“The more noise we make about this issue the less of an issue it will become.”
After the match the rainbow-coloured kits will be sold at auction to raise money for Pride Trust, an LGBT youth charity.
Mr Waterson set up and inclusion and diversity program when he joined the club’s board and hopes to encourage new fans to come and watch the club.
“For me it was about making Altrincham FC relevant to every member of our community regardless of ethnicity, regardless of sexual orientation, religious preferences or gender,” said Mr Waterson.
“It’s about making an environment where everyone wants to come and watch and there isn’t that fear of going to a football ground.”
Asked whether he thinks homophobia is a problem in football, Mr Waterson pointed to the fact there are so few openly gay players.
“The fact there are no openly gay male football players says something about how they feel it would be perceived if they were to come out, because there must be gay footballers out there,” said Mr Waterson. “There are those in other sports and in women’s football but not in the senior levels of the men’s game.”
Altrincham’s usual shirt sponsor, J Davidson & Sons, is replaced by the Football v Homophobia logo on the rainbow kit.
The club has also worked with Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association and last year the shirt sponsor was replaced by Fans of Diversity for a match in October, to show support against racism in football.
“That again was a bold statement, though not as bold as this one, showing we care about other people and want to attract a different set of fans in addition to the ones already in the stadium,” said Mr Waterson.
“We have to change some people’s attitudes and be more welcoming.”