Friday, 9 September 2016

4000 lost souls

News yesterday revealed in a Guardian article that the actual drop in season tickets holders between April and August was 4,000. Pretty much bang on the 40% that has been the best guess of supporters following earlier figures from the club before the season kicked-off (down from 10,278 to 6,297).

Communication on the Official Site in recent weeks has been repeated and orchestrated with differing articles all concluding with a reminder of the value season tickets provide (which is obvious, even to the 4,000 refuseniks). I understand the Club are also calling match-day ticket purchasers and offering to deduct the sum of games attended so far to further induce sales. Finally, it looks like the desperateness of the situation may have hit home. 

News from some within the Club suggests they were confident the drop in season ticket sales would be c 1500 matching what happened when we were last relegated to League One, but again, they failed to read the tea-leaves or listen to what practically everyone who knew better was telling them.

To put a 4,000 drop into perspective, that's 700 more than tomorrow opponents managed to average at home last season. It really is a stain on the record and one that is going to be very difficult to shift. It will take several seasons of relative success on it's own, something we haven't managed since we were relegated from the Premiership 10 years ago. 

The other key ingredient when we last successfully managed to build attendances and grow our stadium was the wholehearted engagement of the club's most loyal and knowledgeable supporters. In addition to hitting all the right notes as part of the original Target 10,000 and subsequent Target 20,000 campaigns was we all acted as advocates and missionaries for what was happening at the Club. We had a Chairman who was open, realistic and relatively ambitious. He was supported by the best Chief Executive we have ever had in Peter Varney, a man whose dynamism and enthusiasm was infectious. A man who was shabbily spurned when he reached out to Katrien Meire last year.

Therein lies the current problem. Roland Duchatelet isn't going to listen to anyone (he turned down another opportunity to engage yesterday to be the headline speaker at CAST's AGM - probably not high on his list of priorities but a missed opportunity nonetheless). Katrien Meire appears to be either making more of an effort to engage with supporters groups on her own terms or is at least following advice from professionals for once. The trouble is, she has become toxic to the 4000 and no amount of emails or cold-calling is going to change that. I am waiting for one of these pre-match supporter sessions to provoke some more of the inner thoughts of Meire which have shown her up for what she really is - someone who just doesn't get it and who is unfit to run the club.

The only thing she can do to halve that gap in one fell swoop, is to stand-down, but she can't see beyond the end of her nose and the turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

Finally, the OS was trumpeting news that having listened to Target 20,000 (occupied seats) the club will now be replacing the tired 'Jimmy Seed Stand' sign that adorns the away end. That's good news but I also know that they have been very keen to take down some of the advertising boards alongside it from sponsors who have since pulled out. The cost of taking them down has been a bugbear to the club, so updating the Jimmy Seed gives them a win-win.

No comments: