Dave Seddon’s PNE press view

North End manager Simon Grayson has guided his side to the fringes of the play-offs
North End manager Simon Grayson has guided his side to the fringes of the play-offs
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The fans’ forum held at Deepdale this week saw a number of topics covered, a wide range of views shared and debated.

Pricing, season tickets, cash turnstiles, overcooked pies and the club shop all got an airing over 90 minutes.

While you are never going to hear everything you want to from such events, it has always been my belief that it is good to talk.

Some fans took the chance to explain that prices were starting to get beyond their means.

Different price structures and possible offers were put forward as alternatives.

For their part, North End’s hierarchy explained their policy on pricing.

Their position is that 
they have to strike a some kind of balance between what is paid at the ticket office and what Trevor Hemmings pumps in.

That figure, an annual one, is around the £4m 
mark.

I suppose you see where that balance has to be struck when in the space of a few minutes you have questions about pricing structure and whether Aiden McGeady will come back next season.

That contribution to his salary, so too the wage bill in general, has to come from somewhere.

The suggestion of having the Huddersfield/Bradford model of discount season tickets was rejected on the grounds it would take sales of 25,000 to break even – the capacity of Deepdale is 23,000.

It was common ground that Preston’s performances this season are deserving of a much greater audience.

Some of the football seen at home these last few months is the best for a good many years.

I would argue that it is better to watch than the last time the Lilywhites were competing this high up the Championship in 2009.

Not for a moment am I suggesting Deepdale should be full to the rafters.

However, it would be nice if the 10,000 or so regulars swelled to a figure closer to say 14,000.

Whether that happens, whether the football does in the longer term bring more folk back, whether the offers for children hinted at during the forum bear fruit, only time will tell.

Although North End have a long-standing and proud history in the game, they have been outside of the top division since 1961.

That has had an affect on crowds down the years and understandably so.

Promotion campaigns have seen spikes in numbers but in general the average crowds have been steady if not spectacular.

There were the bleak days of the early to mid 1980s with broken floodlights and no hope, when attendances dropped through the floor.

Thankfully, that era is long gone and North End are pushing along in the right direction in football terms.

I don’t think there is one simple solution to pricing and it will be an issue which remains ongoing.

Perhaps one area where PNE could help the fans and themselves is getting season tickets on sale earlier.

Don’t leave it until late May or early June.

Having an extra pay day to spread the cost would be a huge help to some.

To have to find the cost of a season ticket – or tickets in the case of a family – from one month’s salary is not easy.

During the fans’ forum, thoughts did turn to next season and what might be required squad-wise for Simon Grayson to turn a side on the fringes of the play-offs into one challenging head-on for the top six.

Peter Ridsdale did use the word ‘ruthless’ when it came to how the squad would be looked at – and improved – during the summer.

A signal of intent perhaps to push on and add to the progress seen from mid-September onwards?

If the Championship 
play-offs are beyond reach this season, it will be interesting what Preston’s mantra is in 2017/18.

Simon Grayson has long preached the ‘no pressure’ line regarding the push for the top six.

But in the third season at this level and having seen a big improvement these last few months, does the level of expectation go up?

Having flirted with the play-offs this time, should next term be the start of a serious courtship?

Other clubs will still 
have bigger budgets, that is not going to change.

However, North End have shown these last two seasons that they can deal with the demands of the Championship by doing things slightly different.

Just to finish this week’s offering, I’d like to widen 
the topic and mention the events in Germany on Tuesday night when the Borussia Dortmund team coach was targeted by a terrorist attack.

That the only injury was a badly cut hand is by good fortune, I can only dread to think what the worse case scenario could have been.

To make Dortmund and Monaco play less than 24 hours later after the bomb attack was in my view, the wrong call by UEFA.

Testament to both sides, they produced a very decent game.

UEFA argued a fixture backlog would arise had it not gone ahead.

In the circumstances, that was the least of the worries.