Back the PNE lads

Fans are urged to get behind PNE in numbers next seasonFans are urged to get behind PNE in numbers next season
Fans are urged to get behind PNE in numbers next season
Preston North End are hoping the lure of potentially watching Premier League football free of charge at Deepdale in the future will boost crowds further still next season.

The club have dangled a carrot in front of its supporters by offering them the opportunity to secure free admission to all home game should they win promotion to the top flight within the next five years.

Any PNE supporter purchasing a season ticket for the forthcoming Championship campaign before July 2 will not have to pay a penny to see their club’s first ever season in the Premier League.

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And the club is hoping the idea of potentially seeing North End go head-to-head against the best in future years without having to dip their hands in their own pocket will help swell numbers inside Deepdale next year as the club looks to turn their Premier ambitions into a reality.

Average attendances at Deepdale have been steadily on the rise over the last few years after declining to an 18-year low in 2013 when it dipped under five-figures for the first – and only – time this century.

Relegation to League One and the ill-fated reign of previous boss Graham Westley saw fan numbers dwindle to an average of just over 9,000 in 2013, but that figure has risen in subsequent campaigns.

Promotion under Simon Grayson in 2015 has resulted in many fans returning and last season’s average of just above13,000 was the highest since 2010. During the noughties – when the club regularly competed for a place in the top flight – PNE’s average attendances were regularly above the 14,000 mark.

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Chief executive John Kay will be keen to see that figure reached once more next season as the club looks to build on a successful first year back in the Championship, which saw them secure a top half finish.

The club have reported sales of season tickets to be steady, although they expect to be a rush in the week leading up to the July 2 cut-off date.

Meanwhile, North End have announced that their scheduled pre-season fixture against Accrington Stanley will NOT be switched to Deepdale.

As part of their preparations for the forthcoming season, PNE have organised a number of friendly games, including a trip to the Crown Groundon Saturday July 16.

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However, Stanley have revealed that due to extensive repair work on their pitch, they will not be playing any pre-season games at home.

Building work is also being carried out off the pitch at Stanley and it seems North End fans will not be travelling across to East Lancashire next month.

Currently the match is still scheduled to go-ahead and it is believed Stanley chief executive David Burgess is looking at alternative venues to stage the friendly.