HARTLEPOOL United have one overriding ambition for the forthcoming campaign – and that is to improve their desperate home form.
That is the message from chief executive Russ Green as Pools continue their season-ticket drive, which tipped the 1,000 sales mark this week.
He is well aware of the dip in attendances last term which was brought about by the club-record run of nine straight home defeats.
Still, though, gates remained north of 4,000 and Green believes that was because of the ground-breaking, £100 season-ticket initiative which saw nearly 6,000 seats snapped up 12 months ago.
The club have again rolled out a price-busting offer of £155 this summer, but the Pools chief does not want to rest on the assumption that supporters will turn up regardless of the product on the pitch.
“What would our gate have been on that ninth home game without that £100 offer?” said Green, reflecting on last season’s home form.
“I honestly believe we would have dipped below 2,000.
“It could only happen to us – the best season-ticket offer in history and we lose more home games than ever before!
“We were getting people calling us asking for an away season ticket!
“But, in all seriousness, we know that the home form has to improve because we want supporters to come week in, week out because they’re excited to come to the games.
“Neale (Cooper) wants that more than anybody and I think supporters see that as well.”
Green and Pools were widely applauded for their efforts in bringing fans back to Victoria Park this time last year.
They won a Football League marketing award at the end of last season and this summer’s initiative has again attracted a lot of positive press.
And Green went on: “We thought we couldn’t better last year, but I think we have.
“Guaranteeing the price at £155 will be a big help and the fact we’re offering a jackpot of £15,000 to one fan (should they reach 4,000 sales) is a tremendous incentive.
“The price is still less than half of what it was two seasons ago.
“The issue of dwindling attendances needs to be addressed in football.
“We did the £100 just to see if the fans were there, and they obviously were.
“We’re on a bit of a wing and prayer again this summer, but I think we’ve won a lot of supporters for the way we’ve tried to do things.
“Those floating fans whose first team is Newcastle, Sunderland or Middlesbrough have come on board with us now and we’re many fans’ second club.
“A lot of schemes do fall off second year, but we’re hoping that won’t happen – this is why we’ve tried to change it.
“We learnt a lot last year and we’ve got to build on that experience.
“If you can budget for it then I think we will try to offer something similar every year.
“It’s a competitive market out there and you can’t just rely on people coming year after year.”