PNE fans have huge part to play

Sean Gregan celebrates his play-off penalty
Sean Gregan celebrates his play-off penalty
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Preston North End are urging the city to get behind them in their play-off quest and get Deepdale as close to capacity as possible for Saturday’s first leg against Rotherham United.

After strong early ticket sales, the Lilywhites yesterday took the decision to open up a section of the Bill Shankly Kop to home supporters.

The Kop has been for exclusive use of away fans in the last three seasons but 1,700 seats have gone on sale to North End followers.

Famously in the play-offs, North End won the 2001 semi-final penalty shoot-out against Birmingham in front the Kop, the Town End having been a building site at the time.

PNE general manager Ben Rhodes said: “We had left the option open when it came to putting our fans in the Kop.

“We had to gauge demand first because there is a significant cost element to opening it in terms of police and stewarding.

“If the demand had not been there, then there would have been little point.

“However, the sales were phenomenal for the first two days and we came to a decision yesterday to open up a section of the Kop to our fans.

“On police advice we cannot allow relocations for fans who have already bought tickets for other parts of the ground.

“We have been delighted with the response from the supporters.

“There were the big queues on Monday and since then it has been a steady stream – we haven’t had a lull.

“People are booking online and over the phone, as well as coming in person to the ticket office.

“In the first 90 minutes of opening yesterday morning, for example, we sold 500 tickets. We would love to get an attendance beyond what we got for the Blackpool and Wolves games at the start of the season. Our aim is to try and get a sell-out.

“If people for whatever reason haven’t been coming to games this season, whether because of League One football or having other things on, please try and get to the home tie and play a part in us trying to get out of League One and back to the Championship.

“If plans can be changed for Saturday teatime in order to be at Deepdale, please do so!”

Sales to date have been strongest for seats in the Alan Kelly Town End and the Invincibles Pavilion.

With the deadline passing last night for ambassadors and season ticket holders to reserve their usual seat, unclaimed seats will be released for open sale today.

Rhodes said: “Some of our ambassadors and season ticket holders might have bought tickets for other areas of the ground to be with friends, so that is why they have not claimed their usual spot.”

It is expected that Rotherham will sell out their 2,103 away allocation.

The 17,470 crowd for the win over Blackpool in August has, to date, been PNE’s highest attendance of the campaign.

A couple of days earlier, the season’s opener against Wolves attracted a 16,593 gate.

The third highest crowd was 13,440 for Leyton Orient’s visit in February, which came the day after the sad passing of Sir Tom Finney.

For next Thursday’s away leg at the New York Stadium, North End sold out their 1,210 allocation in less than six hours.