Dave Seddon's Preston North End Press View: Do refunds really soften the blow of a big defeat?

Preston North End’s drubbing at the hands of Luton Town is best quickly forgotten, except that there’s not another game to focus on for another fortnight.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 18th March 2022, 4:45 pm

The Championship’s relentless schedule often allows the chance for quick redemption after a bad result, Saturday afternoon here before you know it after a midweek defeat, or a Tuesday night under the lights can be the perfect tonic to losing at the weekend.

That’s not so for PNE right now, they’ve got to wait another fortnight until the April 2 trip to Derby County to try and get Luton out of the system.

Such system flushing is being done by some of the squad in sunnier climes, Ryan Lowe having granted them a few days off during the international break – a decision made well in advance of what happened at Kenilworth Road.

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In a different way, North End manager Lowe set about soon after the final whistle the task of softening the blow of a big defeat felt by the fans.

The headline point of his post-match remarks to the media was to see the travelling faithful – 614 of them – reimbursed their ticket money.

It would be done ‘asap’ according to Lowe and indeed by Thursday morning, refunds had been offered.

What was also put in place was a vow to donate any unclaimed refunds to the British Red Cross Ukraine crisis appeal.

Preston North End come under pressure against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road

That is where I envisage much of the refund cash to go.

The majority of football fans accept that results don’t always go the way they want, the way to support a club is to take the rough with the smooth.

It is the risk you take clicking through the turnstile. You might be treated to a superb performance or quite easily have to sit through 90 minutes of utter dross.

Only at the very top of the tree is there a feeling of entitlement and where’s the excitement in that?

Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson holds off Luton Town's Allan Campbell

I posted on Twitter that North End’s offer to reimburse was a noble gesture and done in great spirit.

They did it not because of the 4-0 scoreline but the manner of performance.

Peter Ridsdale was quoted as saying: “Whilst this is something that we would not ordinarily consider, we do believe that for just over 600 supporters to travel on a wet Wednesday night was amazing and sadly the performance on the field was not acceptable.”

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PNE offer to refund supporters who made the trip to Luton

This must be taken as an isolated offer, not something to repeated every time PNE lose or perform a little off colour.

It’s not quite a one-off, with the club refunding supporters after the trip to Sheffield Wednesday in December 2016 when North End strikers Jermaine Beckford and Eoin Doyle had fisticuffs and were sent-off.

On that occasion the fines paid by Beckford and Doyle covered the cost of the refunds.

This time North End will be dipping into their own bank account. Gate receipts for league games are kept entirely by the home club, minus a small admin fee for the visiting club for selling tickets in advance.

So it’s money PNE never had which they will be refunding or donating.

I’ve spoken to a few supporters who are uneasy about the whole concept of refunds. At what point does a defeat become wholly unacceptable? Is a particular scoreline a trigger?

In Preston’s case at Luton, it was how they played rather than how many they were beaten by.

Lowe felt this was the best way to get a message across to supporters as to how far the performance had fallen below standard.

It was a big slip when you bear in mind the eight previous Championship away games under Lowe’s watch had seen four wins, three draws and just one defeat.

Only three goals had been shipped on the road in the league, so to concede three by half-time on Wednesday evening was a shock to the system to say the least.

That's where we have to be careful not to go too overboard with the reaction to Luton, not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Some players had a rotten night and that couldn’t be argued against. But 10 days earlier they were being lauded after the 2-1 win over Bournemouth.

There are clearly gaps in the squad which Lowe will have to address in the summer but that wasn’t something we didn’t know.

Lowe will have learned plenty from that game, as much about character as ability.

Interestingly post match, he did wonder out loud whether the nature of Kenilworth Road and its facilities had played a part, with some players unable to get themselves going?

It’s certainly a throwback stadium, squeezed between houses on three sides and a dual carriageway on the other.

I last sat in the away end there in 1997 when Tony Lormor, David Eyres and Lee Ashcroft were the North End scorers in a 3-1 win. Walking past the turnstiles on the way to the main stand, it doesn’t look like it has changed at all.

Luton hope to move to a new stadium in the near future, I know that because the land they want to build it on is where we parked the car. It just happens to be a 25-minute walk away from Kenilworth Road so I certainly got my steps in!

Moving back to the refund issue, I hope the 614 travelling fans make a decision in line with their own circumstances. Whatever they decide, every credit for being there on a very wet Wednesday night.