HUDDERSFIELD TOWN chairman Dean Hoyle has acknowledged that the club need to come up with a policy to win back apathetic supporters who are voting with their feet and staying away from the John Smith’s Stadium.
Hoyle addressed fans at the Canalside ahead of last night’s 1-1 televised draw with Nottingham Forest - and spoke on a wide range of issues, including the topic of Town’s home attendances.
Town’s average gate is currently 11,114, with less than 10,000 home fans attending the weekend game with Bolton.
There were just over 10,000 Town spectators in Thursday night’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest - with no major crowd boost arriving despite a 4-1 win over the Trotters.
The current seasonal average at the John Smith’s Stadium is around 2,500 down from last year’s figure of 13,613, with Town’s other average attendances during their time in the second tier also far exceeding the current level.
In Town’s first season back in the Championship in 2012-13, they averaged 15,068 and the figure in 2013-14 was 14,213.
The decreasing gates represents a worrying development, according to Hoyle, who says Town will struggle to survive at this level if the low gates continue.
He said: “We’ve won four in 24 and been playing some dire football, so our ‘walk-up’ is going down and our home numbers are going down.
“We can’t afford to have 500 fewer people turning up per match each year – against Bolton there were 9,500 home supporters in the stadium and that’s too low for us to survive in Championship football.
“Rightly or wrongly the club needs a shot in the arm and we need to get fans back.
“Next season there will be increased money from the Football League and we have to make a choice – do we give some of that money back to the fans and have discounted season-tickets or do we use some of it to invest in the playing squad.
“Maybe next year we put a proportion to spend on the playing squad and wages and maybe give a bit back on season-tickets – not matchday tickets – and maybe start pushing it from January all the way through.
“We need to understand what’s working and what’s not.”
Meanwhile, Hoyle also revealed that Middlesbrough have a 20 per cent sell-on clause on Jacob Butterfield, who cost Town £300,000 and will cost Derby over £5m all told, while Town have a 20 per cent sell-on with Adam Clayton, who they sold to Middlesbrough for £1.7m
Hoyle said that James Vaughan’s proposed recent move to Wigan Athletic collapsed because Town did not want to pay half his wages.