After only narrowly missing out on the play-offs last season when finishing seventh, hopes were high of United going even better this time around but the Whites have slumped to sit 14th and 12 points behind the top six with just eight games remaining.
United managing director Angus Kinnear has already admitted that he could understand that “supporter sentiment has been dented” but the Whites MD has said “lessons had been learned” this year ahead of what he predicted would be an “exciting summer.”
Heckingbottom also readily admitted that he could appreciate frustration felt by supporters who have now gone almost a decade and a half without Premier League football but the Whites head coach insisted his club’s fans would be crucial to any success.
“Don’t have any regrets,” said Heckingbottom, asked if he had a message for any season ticket holders who were yet to make up their minds about renewing.
“Lots of people have supported this football club for a long, long time and they will always be buying the season tickets, of course they will.
“And then there will maybe be others who are maybe not disillusioned or thinking of doing something else but everyone we are speaking about there, they have all experienced what it’s like at Elland Road when things are going well and how hard it is to get involved in that if you have not already been there.
“So for me, don’t have any regrets, get yourself a season ticket bought.
“If you are thinking either way, get it bought. It’s a good offer, it’s a good time to be part of things rather than wishing you would have bought it in October or November next season.”
Asked if he felt empathy for United’s fans following this season’s disappointing campaign, Heckingbottom admitted: “Yes. And the fans can’t underestimate how important they are to this team.
“They will be here forever, long after I have been here and the players have been here, the fans will always be here.
“If you are a Leeds United fan you will always be coming and you will outstay everyone and that’s how important they are to the team.
“They will have a big part to play and any way we achieve success, the fans will be a big part of that. So from my point of view, they are needed, 100 per cent needed.”