Many clubs will look to tap into a foreign market as they seek exposure but Bala Town found two fans through a popular football simulation game.
Sports Interactive’s Football Manager has thrown up some intriguing stories over the years and this is yet another case of how a game can make the strangest of alliances.
Back in 2011, Alessandro and his brother Andrea sought a new challenge and in that, they chose the Welsh Premier League.
And through that, Bala Town was their selected team. The pair looked closer and closer into the club and were massive fans of what Colin Canton was doing at Maes Tegid.
But the pair also wanted to overtake the current Bala boss into a virtual reality world and so they did, the two brothers spent months trying to make Bala a household name both in the Premier League and in Europe.
The game prompted interest from the friends of the two brothers and thus the Bala Town Italian Supporters branch was born. The friends were intrigued in both how the simulation was going on as well how the real Bala Town team were progressing.
Just like Bala Town have their own big-name players in Chris Venables, Mike Hayes and Les Davies, Alessandro’s super-star would be fictional player called Ian, an 18 year-old from Manchester United who would remarkably score 40 goals in a season.
The Italians master-minded their way to the Champions League group-stages, a feat no Welsh team has achieved in the modernisation of the Champions League back in 1992.
And just like Bala’s team in real life, the club were on the up, in the same season that the Lakesiders qualified for the UEFA Europa League Play-Offs, their Football Manager equivalent were beating Italian giants Juventus, Napoli and Palermo.
Bala Town fortunately are aware of their Italian fan base and in 2015, they partnered up with the Italian Lakesiders to contribute to a weekly blog on all thing British football, which would be written in Italian.
It would be called Lakesiders Corner, where match reports would be sent in each week, as the Italian branch of Bala supporters tried to persuade even more Italians to buy into what the club has to offer.
Unfortunately for Alessandro, his brother and their friends, the closest they’ve been to Bala Town is a holiday in Wales back in 2009, two years before they started supporting the Lakesiders.
They will now hope they can put together enough money to make the eight-hour round trip to Switzerland so they can watch the second leg of Bala Town’s Europa League Qualifier against Vaduz.
(Featured Image: Bala Town FC)