Dave Seddon’s PNE press view

The cameras line up for Simon Grayson's press conference at Deepdale on Thursday
The cameras line up for Simon Grayson's press conference at Deepdale on Thursday
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Even with Preston North End having a decent-enough profile in League One, press conferences can still be reasonably lonely occasions when covering the fortunes of the Lilywhites.

More often than not, it is only three for four reporters to whom Simon Grayson delivers his Monday and Thursday morning media briefings.

On matchdays, hacks can spread themselves over a few desks in the Deepdale press box along the back of the Sir Tom Finney Stand.

It has all been very different this week in the build-up to the Manchester United game, with Grayson and his players very much men in demand for interviews.

And Monday evening will see Deepdale host its biggest ever contingent of reporters, photographers, commentators and technicians for a game.

How nice to see PNE in the national – and world – spotlight once again.

The aim in the long run is to get the profile back up to a higher level, although to match the interest of this clash with United will take some doing.

North End designated Thursday afternoon to media duties for Grayson and some of his players.

Grayson and Kevin Davies were put up in front of daily newspaper note pads, radio microphones and television cameras.

Paul Gallagher was given Sunday paper duty to ensure a fresh line was reserved for digesting over a relaxed read of the tabloids and broadsheets tomorrow.

At a guess I would have said 50 reporters and snappers were at the press conference, which was held in one of the lounges in the Invincibles Pavilion instead of the normal venue at Springfields.

As for Monday evening, the numbers are something else.

The BBC will have 158 staff there, just in relation to the live broadcast of the game and the sixth-round draw which is taking place before.

Add to that 140 journalists and photographers and the 300 mark is almost hit.

When the press box only holds 49, you can imagine the juggling which the PNE media team have had on their hands.

Of course, that is just one of the many sideshows to the important stuff on the pitch.

The others have included a fan offering to sell his kidney and another camping outside the ticket office on a mattress he found on Moor Park!

So can Preston beat United?

The odds are very much against them doing so but this is a game of football, not an event taking place on paper or on a computer game.

Who knows, Grayson’s men could catch United on an 
off night and spring a surprise.

If the media interest was big in the build-up, just imagine what it would be like in the aftermath of that!

Should United click and players like Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Angel di Maria and Juan Mata live up to their star billing, it will be the visitors heading home with a quarter-final spot.

But if they do not, a shock is not beyond the realms of probability.

If North End are to bow out, doing so after a replay would have its compensation in the tune of more than £1m from the visit to Old Trafford.

Monday’s game is worth an estimated £500,000 to PNE in television rights, ticket sales and advertising.

Double that, stick more cash on top of that figure and you get nearer to what a second bite at the cherry would be worth.

Mind you, getting the job done on Monday night would be just fine for every North End supporter!

In the long run, it would be desirable if some of those fans who are making a rare pilgrimage to Deepdale were to return more regularly.

Not all will return – for some in the home stands, this will be a one-off visit.

However, picking up just a section of the irregulars would be a major boost.

Even if only 2,000 opted to return more often, that would make a positive impression on both the atmosphere and finances at Deepdale.

Here we are talking about cash boosts in a week when the Premier League announced their new £5bn television rights deal with Sky and BT.

We have been fed the usual stuff about money filtering down to the Football League and to grassroots but I’ll believe that when I see it.

The current Premier League deal is mind-bloggling enough but have we seen an improvement in sports facilities? I think we know the answer to that.

Effectively, Sky and BT have splashed out to ensure a regular diet of games featuring United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs.

I cannot think that Crystal Palace v Hull on a Friday night was really worth the outlay.