Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday August 21 2009
Wigan Athletic kicked off the new Premier League campaign at home against newly promoted Wolves on Tuesday, the game was also billed as the 'Home Coming` for new boss Roberto Martinez and followed on from the excellent away win against Aston Villa 3 days earlier.
It all turned in to a bit of a disappointment, Latics lost the game 1-0 to a 7th minute Andy Keogh goal but the biggest disappointment of the night for me was the crowd, 16,661 turned up to witness what was hailed as a new beginning, over 4,000 of those had come to support Wolves.
With just over 12,000 in the home sections of the ground the newly named DW stadium looked scarcely populated and the South stand in particular looked, well a bit embarrassing if I am truthful.
The `home` attendance against Wolves is probably on a par with opening games from previous Premier League seasons, Reading 2006 - 14,636, Middlesbrough 2007 - 14,007, and last years home opener against Chelsea, a glamorous tie, saw just 18,139 in attendance.
Now Manchester United visit this Saturday and word from the club is tickets haven`t gone as well as planned and there are plenty left, so what does the club need to do to get the following it deserves?
We have been in the Premier League since 2005 and we are starting our fifth consecutive season in what is regarded as the best league in the world, but as it all come to quickly?
Rising quickly through the leagues is very exciting but it doesn`t give chance for the fan base to grow, now I am not saying we should have taken longer to get to the top but maybe our hardcore 12,000 is a consequence of this.
The club have been proactive in trying to encourage the kids on board and they are the future of the club, with the Latics having the largest % of under 16 season ticket holders in the Premier League it does appear to be working, but we still need to fill the empty seats.
We are in a recession, yes I know, but the current problem goes long before this and is not in my opinion a viable reason for our low gates, what we need to do is find a way of getting people through those turnstiles week in week out, give them an experience that is value for money and more attractive than sitting at home or going to the pub.
So what should the club do?
We are asking you to give us your ideas, sensible ones please, as to how the club can do this and we will collate them together and send them to the club in a professional report.
I will start, I have always advocated that the South stand should be free to 14`s and under and I know that the club do give out tickets to schools and clubs etc, but why not just let the kids get a free season ticket up to their 15th birthday, keep them in the South stand, anywhere else in the ground and they have to pay, that way hopefully behind the goals will be populated and the kids could also drag their parents along to the game
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Date:Friday August 21 2009
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