Date:Wednesday February 20 2008
Blackburn Rovers' pioneering 'We Believe' ticketing promotion' to encourage fans back to Ewood Park has been hailed a great success by the media, fans and the club itself.
The radical price reductions introduced just six months ago have already resulted in increased crowds at only a fraction of what was originally forecast.
At this point, just over half way through the season, average gates have increased by almost 2,000 while a game-for-game comparison shows that attendances are up by a very significant 3,100 on last season.
The campaign has seen the number of season ticket holders increase by 2,500 on 2006/7. This figure is up by almost 19 per cent on last year and represents the first major turn around in support for several seasons.
Taking into consideration the 'churn level' (those who do not renew) of about 1,000, the actual total of new season ticket holders is 3,500.
Although the club budgeted £1 million of the latest TV deal for the initiative, the bigger attendances attracted by the promotion mean that it has only had to use £300,000 to win back the fans.
On average there are about 600 more match day ticket sales per game.
Dramatic cuts to the cost of seeing home fixtures together with competitive football are bringing back followers in increasing numbers.
Adult season tickets have been slashed to less than £300, children's to as little as £40 whilst match day prices are often around £20 and cup games down to £5.
Fans that had stopped attending due to the spiralling cost of watching the Premier League have started to return.
Simon Williams, the club's commercial and marketing manager, views the increased following as justification for the major promotional campaign he is leading at Ewood.
Heartened by the positive reaction by the Blackburn public, he is already looking to grow support in future years.
'On the whole, we see it as a great success considering the current trends in football and hope to further build on the success in the coming season,' he said.
'It's important not to forget that any initiative like this relies on the quality of the product and this year the football has been excellent and, at this point, we are very much in the race for Europe.'
The achievements by the club have seen Blackburn Rovers win the Northwest Football marketing award for the 'We Believe' promotion.
And the increase in numbers (and subsequent additional revenue) has meant that what might have seemed a major financial gamble is in fact paying dividends.
The PR benefits are difficult to quantify, but those running the club view their battle to attract followers, jaded by the predictability of the league and sky-high players' wages, as a fight worth taking on.
Blackburn is one of four Premier League teams to reduce prices in an attempt to stop fans drifting away from attending live games.
Middlesbrough, Bolton and Wigan have also invested significant amounts of money to try to bring back supporters.
To put the success of Blackburn's campaign into context, Middlesbrough's attendances are actually down by over 2,000; Wigan's by 2,500 and Bolton's have fallen by over 4,500 on 2006/7.
One thing as a regular match go-er myself I have noticed is the better quality match atmosphere that is generated this season as opposed to last. Home games against Man City, Newcastle and in particular Arsenal were particularly impressive.
In fact, the club has also revealed that it has managed to bring back season ticket holders who have not held one for up to eight years and they have even managed to convert one Manchester United supporter into buying a season ticket!!!
And if that doesnt bring a smile to your face nothing will.
Date:Wednesday February 20 2008
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