PNE boss looking forward to seeing team play in front of big crowds

Chris Humphrey
Chris Humphrey
  • Simon Grayson looking forward to seeing Deepdale packed next season
  • Preston fans will also relish visiting bigger stadiums on their travels
  • Chris Humphrey named in Jamaica’s CONCACAF Gold Cup squad
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Simon Grayson says the prospect of Preston North End playing in front of bigger crowds both at Deepdale and on their travels this season is an exciting one.

Home attendances are set to rise after promotion to the Championship and one of the challenges in away matches will be playing in front of far greater numbers than they have been used to during their time in League One.

This season there are going to be times when we could have crowds of 20,000

Seven of the clubs who PNE will face in the second tier had an average league crowd of more than 20,000 last season.

Nine more averaged above the 15,000 mark.

In readiness for the return to the Championship, North End are working on increasing the capacity at Deepdale.

The repair of a number of broken seats in the front rows of the Town End and Kop will bring capacity back above 23,000.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “The aim was always to get back to the Championship.

“We would have liked to have done it the year before but that didn’t happen.

“Now we are there, things are all set up behind the scenes for this next level.

“You look at the fixtures and all of them are mouth-watering.

“It is a tough league and there are some massive clubs in there.

“This season there are going to be times when we could have crowds of 20,000, when you bear in mind the away followings.

“No disrespect to League One but the away support of clubs coming here were not really that high.

“It could be as few as 100 to 200, probably the maximum was below 2,000.

“You would think in the Championship that figure will rise, varying between 2,000 and 4,000.

“You have got teams like Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Nottingham Forest, Leeds, as well as the local derbies.

“There will be fantastic atmospheres, not only here but away where we will be testing ourselves at some big grounds.

“This is what we have strived for over the last two years or so – we can’t wait to get going.”

Meanwhile, North End winger Chris Humphrey could be spending part of the build-up to the new campaign on the other side of the Atlantic.

Humphrey has been named in Jamaica’s provisional 35-man squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is being held in the United States and Canada.

That squad will be reduced to 23 later this month, ahead of the start of the tournament on July 7.

Humphrey, 27, was not in the Jamaica squad for the Copa America which is currently taking place.

But it is likely he will make the cut for next month’s competition.

Said Humphrey: “I’ve been doing some work in the gym to keep myself ticking over.

“I had a couple of days away after the play-off final.

“If I do get called-up, it will mean missing part of the pre-season but playing games in a big tournament is a great way to build fitness.”

Humphrey signed a new two-year contract with North End earlier in the month.

He made 56 appearances last season.