Will We See an Increase in Attendances Next Season?

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Good times to come?

Leeds United announced late last week that almost 11,000 season tickets have been sold ahead of next season, we started to wonder what constitutes a ‘good crowd’ at Elland Road these days. We also took some time to think about why crowd levels have dropped and why it might take a while for them to rise to the levels we all long to see again.

This season, it’s fair to say, has been a disappointment on many levels. Crowd levels have reflected that, with a season high in the league of 25,532 for the ‘Leeds for Less’  midweek game against Blackpool. Couple this with a season low of 16,788 for another midweek game, against Burnley,  it’s clear to see that the club need to work hard to bring the supporters back.

Should we expect crowds of 30,000 at Elland Road every week whilst we are an average Championship side? Probably not. The reasons for the drop in attendances are many; a long running dislike of Ken Bates, his broken promise of ‘Premier League football if you pay Premier League prices’ still sticking in the craw for many. Add this to the Club’s previous insistence on season tickets being renewed the January BEFORE the season you’re actually buying a ticket for, unless you want to be hit by a hefty premium, it’s not hard to see why people drifted away. Those that did stay, who deserve our eternal gratitude, have had their patience further tested by a season of hoofball. So now Bates has (almost) gone, the hoofball has been sent on a one way journey to Devon, season ticket prices have been reduced, should be expect crowd levels to rocket? Maybe not immediately.

What people need to remember when they look at our falling crowd levels is that it’s not all football related. People are battling against a backdrop of an economic downturn, and a scarcity of jobs. Paying £500 for a season ticket might be something that tens of thousands of Leeds fans WANT to do, but simply cannot afford to do. And that’s where the Club, our fellow supporters, need to help.

The ‘Leeds for Less’ campaign was an unqualified success. Looking at the contrast between the two games I referred to earlier, it’s a fair assumption that it probably added 7,000 to the attendance of the Blackpool game. That’s 7,000 people who (a) might not have been able to afford to go to a Leeds game without the price reduction or (b) might have chosen to spend their 15 quid on going to the cinema, or (perish the thought) the rugby. Taking that as an example, two things need to happen. Firstly, the fans that go to every game need to accept these “extra” fans as being just as much of a Leeds fan as they are. There’s no qualification requirement to calling yourself a Leeds fan. You don’t have to attend x amount of games a season. You don’t have to live within spitting distance of Gelderd Road. If you’re a Leeds fan you should be welcomed as that even if you only get to one game a season. Because you know what? If they come to one game and have a fantastic time and feel welcome, they might just come again next week! Secondly, the Club need to repeat the “Leeds for Less” games.  Taking the North Stand as an example, the current price of £487 for a season ticket sees you paying roughly £21 a game. Assuming an average of around £27 for a match day ticket, the Club could look at running 3 of these initiatives next season, without penalizing season ticket holders. And run a couple of them in the first few games of the season; if the team can get off to a good start, the football and the atmosphere will get these people coming back again and again.

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The Club should also be applauded for two other initiatives, that definitely wouldn’t have happened under the previous regime. Half season tickets – regularly championed by this very site – were reintroduced this season. Let’s make sure they stay as a permanent fixture. Launch them in December, covering all games from 1st January onwards and get them on people’s Christmas lists! Another plus is the reduction in both size, and price, of the matchday magazine. What a fantastic idea. Not only does it give fans almost 25 quid a season back, they don’t lose anything either. The same amount of content, just in a smaller form factor.  Let’s see what the Club decide to do with membership for the coming season; we’ve already made our suggestions here

Maybe they will follow our suggestion, or come up with a similar scheme. As long as it’s something that encourages fans to buy tickets for matches, we won’t be complaining.

So we’ve shown how the foundations can be laid to get the crowds back to Elland Road. Will It happen? It’s dependent on several factors, not least the kind of football Leeds United are producing on the pitch. If Brian McDermott can get that right, and GFH can interact with the fans without calling them names and keep introducing the initiatives that they’ve started so promisingly with, then there’s really no reason why not. It might not be a sudden spike; we might see the average start to creep up towards 23,000, then 24,000, and slowly go from there. It might even taken a season or two for the numbers to start getting back to where we think they should be. We’ve made a good start, but there’s still work to be done, by all of us. By the Club, to encourage as many as possible of us to attend games. By fans, to encourage people who do turn up for the cheap games to come again. Most importantly, by Leeds United, to play the kind of football that we ALL want to pay money to see.

Reporter – Ian Wylie 

  • yorxman

    If we start seeing some football (signs are promising) and get rid of the Category A prices then there’s every chance yes

  • Gerald Hobbs

    we’ve started playing football again – and without a doubt there is a breath of fresh air about ER!
    I have bought a season ticket for the first time in 35 years and I am HOPEFUL for a change – not despondant as usual.
    Best Wishes to all LEEDS fans! MOT!

    • JDC

      Well done Gerald … I sincerely hope you enjoy the coming season and the club achieve what we all want.

    • RITGK

      Great to hear Gerald and im sure you would have picked the right season to come back..

  • DJMashup

    Will we fcuk, not while that old piece of shit Bates still has his hand in our club. I refuse to give my hard earned money to a group of people who refuse to invest in the club and instead they systematically strip the club, charge us way over the odds to watch shit football and then the fans get blamed for their lack of support … Seriously, should we feel good about paying Premier League prices to watch League 1 football? I don’t and maybe after the summer if GFHC have invested then I will feel better about investing myself but the key word there is “If” and I really don’t see it happening … Negative, yes, realistic, yes!!

  • WesternKIng

    get us to where Man City are & we could fill a 70,000 seater stadium! MOT

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.barber.796774 Richard Barber

    Was a season ticket holder from 1984 until the day the old fool darkened our door. I will never ever go back until he is totally out of our club forever. He has hated us since we broke his brand new scoreboard back in the day and has totally used us to recoup his loss whilst laughing his head off at the younger generation who line his pockets through over inflated ticket and programme prices.

    McQueen, I know you dont agree with my view and I appreciate your views but wake up lad

    Love you loads

    RR x

    • Leeds_Lad

      I totally agree. Also was a season ticket holder for 20ish years, but will never return until Bates is really gone, 100%. He still has “business interests” in Leeds United and we still line his pockets. …. No “Honorary Parasite” within our club !!!!!

    • RITGK

      Don’t disagree with your views you know that Robbie. However as the owners have said he has no involvement over the day to day running of the club from 01/06. Sounds like you cant be tempted back so when you come back in 3 years when Kenneth has departed give me a shout and ill meet you over at the Peacock to get you a couple of WKD Blues i know you like. MOT!

  • db_kahuna

    Looks like they took some of your advice. The three tiered membership scheme has just been announced on the OS