Return of supporters will give Preston North End a much-needed boost

The return of supporters to Deepdale is desperately needed to boost Preston both on and off the pitch, says Peter Ridsdale.
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North End are hoping to allow some fans back in their ground by Saturday, October 17 for the visit of Cardiff City.

Working off the current Government guidelines regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and sporting venues, 25 to 30% of Deepdale could be operational after October 1.

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That means the club’s opening two league fixtures against Swansea City on the opening day and Stoke City two weeks later will be played behind closed doors.

PNE advisor Peter RidsdalePNE advisor Peter Ridsdale
PNE advisor Peter Ridsdale

So too will the club’s Carabao Cup first-round fixture against Mansfield Town, scheduled for the end of this month.

However, the prospect of having supporters cheering the team on again in around two months’ time will not only benefit the players on the pitch, but also the club’s finances.

PNE have seen their main income through gate receipts fall through a black hole since March 7 – the last time fans were allowed through the turnstiles for a game.

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In that time they have been solely reliant upon owner Trevor Hemmings’ financial input to keep them afloat.

And the news that they can tentatively start making plans for the return of supporters has been hugely welcomed.

Over the next week, the club is expected to announce season ticket details.

“We anticipate that the Cardiff City home game will be the first one with supporters based on the current information that we have,” said Ridsdale, who is the club’s advisor to Mr Hemmings.

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“We will be trying hard to get to a point where we will be able to announce season ticket details this week. That will be based on Deepdale having a 30% capacity maximum.

“Whether that increases will be down to government advice. Clearly we desperately hope so because we have had no income since March.

“It wasn’t for our ownership structure, we would not have been able to get through it.”

Meanwhile, Ridsdale has poured cold water on reports that North End have had a bid accepted for Wigan Athletic forward Josh Windass.

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The 26-year-old spent part of last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls have had a bid accepted for Windass by the cash-strapped Latics – and it is believed at least two other clubs are chasing his signature.

One of those clubs was reported to have been North End but Ridsdale said: “I can 100% guarantee we are not signing Josh Windass.”

Windass has a year left on his contract at Wigan after joining from Rangers for £2.5million in 2018.