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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Bringing Back the Fans

Nottingham Forest hasn’t been in the Premier League since 1999. In that time they have also spent 3 seasons in League One. In those 13 years in the Championship we have had 3/4 realistic promotion campaigns, and 3/ 4  relegation battles. The rest of the time our season is over by Easter usually. In that same time, other teams in our division, have had successful European campaigns (Leeds Champions League, Fulham and Boro UEFA/Europa Cup Finals) 16 of those teams have player in the Premier League for at least a season, and 7 have qualified for and played in Europe. And yet we seem to think we have a divine right to Promotion.

Like or not we are a mid-range Championship team, and there are myriad reasons as to why. For all our fans proclaim our support to be amazing, we rarely fill the ground. Therefore our claims to be a Premiership standard team initially fall down off the field. Say what you will about Fawaz and his regime, or any of the managers, but if we filled the ground every week, (and for the purpose of this argument let’s take a standard smaller crowd like the Watford game. If we added another 6-7,000 fans on the gate, you’re talking a little shy of £200k a game in terms of gate receipts. Extrapolate that across a season, and you’re on the way to £4mill. Easy to blast my figures away I know. Some games do get bigger gates anyway, but my point is the club could get a decent amount of cash extra if we filled the ground.

Now here’s the crunch, the best way to fill the ground is a successful team, but there are clubs with more pathetic seasons than our who get more fans. Now the Pearce effect of early seasons gates, and potential disillusioned fans after another mid-range season, season ticket sales may indeed drop, whilst fans then bemoan how the club is run and call into question the financial management. But as I say, £4million a season extra COULD be earned. But due to the general indifference and fair weather nature of a lot of fans we won’t get them. Why? Well another reason is that we haven’t been top flight for 16 years. A generation of fans will have gone elsewhere. In the same way we lost host of fans in League One we will have struggled to bring back. 


So we can’t bring in fans because we aren’t flying high. But to get extra revenue to make our FFP performance look better, we need more income. Fans on Twitter often cite Commercial revenue as an earner as if the club haven’t thought about, but the problem is a lot of our facilities are old. The Main stand is a 60’s relic, and all the other stands date from the 80- 90s. Which in Commercial terms may as well be the 60’s? Kit sales and other merchandise is maybe another earner, but like ticket sales it relies on fans forking out. Hence we keep getting special 3rd kits half way a season to bring more cash out. But we change our whole kit range every season. Amongst older fans it breeds apathy to forking out cash for a new kit every season. £45 is a lot for the shirt, never mind blinging it up with a player name, league tabs.

The fans need to stop having an apathy. Which I do understand, but to complain about lack of revenues without going is churlish. Its easy for me to pontificate that they should go to games, but its more important than ever right now with a bi season for FFP and the fact a lot of fans may decide to not renew. Without those renewals we face an either bigger FFP battle.

But the fact is we have to have a good product to watch, and that may be harder. It could cause a negative spiral of less fans, less cash, even worse team, so even lesser fans. It’s a worry

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