Accrington Stanley has given away more than 1,200 football shirts to primary school-aged children as it seeks to attract the supporters of the future amid the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third-tier English Football League One club treated Year 3 pupils aged seven and eight at 40 schools in the local area to a replica football shirt plus a goody-bag, containing items such as flags, yo-yos and fridge magnets from sponsors.

It is the fourth year of the campaign, with almost 5,000 shirts having now been given away in total.

COVID restrictions meant that this year youngsters were not able to meet Stanley players as they received their shirts, but schools shared photos of their pupils in their new kit. A video marking the giveaway featured cricket commentator and former Lancashire player David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd, an avid Accrington fan.

Daniel Bowerbank, commercial manager at Accrington Stanley, said: “It is difficult times for all of us in sport, but we have a commitment to put smiles on community faces, especially during COVID restrictions. We hope to see more at the Wham when we can eventually allow fans back in.”

Stanley, who play at the 5,400-capacity Wham Stadium, have played behind closed doors since March due to COVID restrictions in England.

The club recently paid tribute to members who declined the opportunity of a 50-per-cent refund on their season tickets.

The club said: “Many have generously opted to pledge the 50-per-cent refund to go towards the new furnishings within the proposed supporters bar due to be built behind the main stand and the many others who have opted to decline any refund whatsoever in order to support the football club through the current financial hurdles due to the Wham Stadium being closed to supporters during the current COVID restrictions.”