Football referee Neshko Marinov is back on the road after the island’s community rallied to replace the bike he had stolen at the end of February.

The popular Bulgarian’s bike was his only form of transport, getting him to and from work in addition to the many games of football he referees over the course of a season.

On February 27 Neshko’s original bicycle was stolen in Douglas the same day he was due to officiate Douglas and District’s FA Cup match with Gymns.

The bike was later discovered abandoned and badly damaged.

Gymns immediately launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a new bike and, within hours, the Manx football community surpassed its £500 target.

The Tromode club eventually raised more than £700 with donations from players, other clubs and the wider island community.

The club’s sponsor, Cowley Groves, and Cycle 360 agreed to make up the difference and source a new bike for the Eastern European who has lived in the island for nine years.

With lockdown now over, Neshko was presented with his new Specialized hybrid bike earlier this week.

On receiving it Neshko said: ’I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Steven Slack and his team at Gymnasium, Cowley Groves, Cycle360, Isle of Man FA, all my referee colleagues, friends, acquaintances and strangers who responded and got involved in the fundraising campaign.

’Your empathy and nobility is an expression of kindness and goodness coming from the heart.

’Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

’Be healthy, keep your faith in the good and pass it on to everyone around you.’

Orry-James Creane from Cowley Groves added: ’This really shows how the island community can all pull-together for a worthwhile cause.

’Many thanks to all involved - Gymnasium AFC, Cycle 360, Isle of Man Football Association, the island’s football clubs and the wider community.’