Dave Seddon's PNE pressview: Preston's ticket allocation for visit to Bloomfield Road is disappointing
Fuel has been hard to come by this week but a full tank of unleaded could well be more achievable for some Preston North End supporters than a ticket for the derby with Blackpool.
PNE’s allocation for Bloomfield Road had been the subject of plenty of talk among the faithful as the big day edged closer.
On Wednesday it was announced that only 2,200 tickets would be available for North End fans.
The club had pressed for more, ‘repeated efforts’ was the phrase used in the press release.
North End wanted the same 3,000 allocation which Barnsley had last Saturday and Blackburn this weekend, had received.
That battle was lost on the grounds that October 23 is a ‘high risk’ game, unlike the two mentioned above.
It’s a blow to the Preston faithful and it is easy to see why the lower allocation sits uncomfortably with them.
Angry and frustrated would be a more apt description of the mood.
Demand was always going to outweigh supply for the derby, North End having not ventured to the Fylde coast for nigh on 12 years.
Considering they had been taking 7,000 followings to Blackburn in recent years, it wouldn’t take a genius to work out that similar numbers would have keen to journey to the other end of the M55.
What might be even more difficult to swallow for some is the prospect of a 5,000 allocation being handed to Blackpool for the return fixture later in the season.
Blackpool and the police will have their reasons for putting the 2,200 limit on.
However, from the outside looking in, whatever their reasons are, it seems North End fans are being hard done – penalised in some way for having a rivalry.
If it was 2,200 tickets for every club who visit Blackpool this season, no complaints.
Being given the extra 800 or so still wouldn’t satisfy demand but at least there would be the feeling PNE were being treated equally.
The majority of clubs at this level have an away stand or section, and it’s the same number available for whoever the visitors are.
If a club can fill it great, if not there are empty seats.
At Deepdale the whole of the Bill Shankly Kop is there available for visitors.
Not often is it sold out but the space is available.
I accept Deepdale is an easier ground to police and steward than Bloomfield Road is, however 2,200 seems too low.
There have even been some Seasiders fans on social media complaining about PNE’s allocation.
They want to see the ground as full as possible rather than have blocks of empty seats.
It could well be that some North End fans who follow the team all over the country and have done for many years, could miss out on seeing the derby.
PNE have tried to be as fair as they can when it comes to distributing the allocation.
Ambassadors had to be given first crack, as the terms and conditions for signing up for the scheme in the first place decreed they would get priority on such occasions.
The ambassadors scheme might not sit easy with some, yet those fans who are ambassadors purchased a season ticket in the summer of 2012 when things weren’t exactly hunky-dory at Deepdale and have done so every summer since.
At some point the scheme will come to an end but until it does, it will be the first port of sale on such occasions when allocations are tight.
The Blackpool situation almost masked the fact that ticket details for the Carabao Cup clash with Liverpool had been announced.
Things should run a lot smoother for that game which is being played on the Wednesday night after the Lancashire derby.
There’s been sensible layering of priority for the fourth round clash, season tickets first, then those who had been to Carabao Cup games in previous rounds or have taking advantage of the three for two offer on October’s home league games.
Underneath that are priority points from various number of past purchases of tickets.
Before we reach the Blackpool and Liverpool matches, there are some key games for PNE to focus on.
Not least the visit to QPR which rounds-off the block of fixtures between the September and October international breaks.
Frankie McAvoy takes his side to that London on the back of five league draws.
Would a sixth draw on the spin be disastrous? If they are trailing and manage an equaliser, of course not.
However, a victory is needed soon, otherwise North End will almost have got dragged into a drawing mentality rather than a winning one.
The draws show they are hard to beat but also that in some games on this run they’ve not found enough to pull off a victory.
Not that every draw of the five should be sniffed at.
Stoke in midweek was very much a point gained when you consider the visitors were the better side.
Had that been North End going away and bossing parts of the game to the extent the Potters did at Deepdale, we’d have regarded the draw as an opportunity missed.
Equalising in the 95th minute at Sheffield United was celebrated like a win, while there was a certain pride at holding West Bromwich Albion.
The goalless draws at Bristol City and Birmingham were the two missed opportunities in my book.
Amid ticket controversy and the talk of getting off this run of draws, I’ll finish on a lighter note.
I’ve been covering PNE home and away for the Lancashire Post for 12 years and last Saturday was a first for me in that I had my name sang on the train down to Birmingham New Street!
To the six lads from Longridge who sang it and offered me a share of their beer – I had to decline as I was working – cheers for the company and I hope it was a good day out.
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