Dave Seddon's PNE Press View

It will be interesting to see the size of crowd which Preston's clash with Burton pulls in through the turnstiles.

Friday, 25th November 2016, 6:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:42 pm
A huge crowd watched the home clash with Newcastle

The drop in attendances between the last two games at Deepdale was a little on the worrying side, hence me wondering about the numbers for this weekend’s clash.

Newcastle’s visit last month attracted a crowd of 20,724, the biggest PNE home league gate since 2009.

That figure included more than 5,600 Magpies fans in a sold-out away end.

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It was always going to be a bumper attendance, bearing in mind Newcastle’s stature.

Hospitality was a sell-out and the noise from all around the ground created a really good atmosphere.

The visit of Wolves last weekend was never going to conjure up a crowd the size of that which watched the Newcastle game.

But the drop to 12,683 was a bigger one than I had anticipated.

The away following was not as big, with Wolves backed by 2,300 supporters in the Bill Shankly Kop.

That meant 10,383 North End fans were there, a drop from the 15,124 supporters who had been in the home stands for the Newcastle clash.

So 4,741 did something other last Saturday than they had done on October 29.

Preston had won their one game in between the two home matches, the 3-1 victory over Rotherham United at the New York Stadium.

So you could not put the big fall in numbers down to form.

Football competes with many other activities for people’s attention and money.

Some supporters will pick and choose games, their lifestyle simply not allowing going to every match.

Finance is clearly an issue, with money not going as far as it once did.

BBC Sport’s recently published Price of Football study showed North End’s ticket prices to be pretty reasonable in the Championship – not the cheapest but nowhere near as expensive as some.

But obviously, admission prices are beyond the pocket of some on a regular basis.

There can be differing approaches to ticketing prices.

Clubs can set prices for season tickets and matchday admission, knowing they will get a decent number of fans prepared to part with their cash but without getting close to capacity regularly.

Another way is trying to attract more fans by charging less, a road Huddersfield have gone down this season.

Outside of the Premier League, money taken at the ticket office represents a big part of a club’s budget.

The difference in the size of television deals between the top flight and the Football League is massive.

What is taken on the gate in the Premier League is loose change compared to what clubs are paid for broadcast rights.

In the Football League, ticket sales make up a large chunk of revenue.

Clubs in the Championship use that money to help finance the chase for a place at English football’s top table.

No doubt prices will be among the topics raised when North End hold a fans’ forum at Deepdale on December 12.

I think such events are a great way for supporters to have a voice and likewise, for the club to have their say on various matters.

Meanwhile, on the pitch there was a missed opportunity for North End when they were knocked out of the Lancashire Senior Cup by Bolton on Wednesday night.

I’m not saying for one moment that the competition is the holy grail but a run in it would not have done some of the first-team fringe players and youngsters any harm.

Nine PNE professionals got a run-out in the game at Lancashire FA headquarters in Leyland, with two youth -team players Josh Earl and Melle Meulensteen starting, and three others – Tom Stead, Dylan Davidson and Kian Smart – coming off the bench.

With PNE not having a reserve side, this was a chance for some valuable game-time to sharpen the fitness.

Had they progressed, there would have been another 
run-out for them.

As a lad, Preston’s reserves were a big part of my football watching.

When the first-team were away in the late 1970s, the reserves would play at Deepdale on a Saturday in the Central League.

Those were the days of one substitute, so you would see some very good players in the reserves while they waited for their chance in the first team.

Reserve leagues are now Under-23s, yet I think English football is missing a trick by not having an open-age reserve competition.