VAUXHALL Motors have put boosting flagging home attendances at the top of their list of priorities for the new year.
Crowds at Rivacre Park have always been low compared to their Blue Square Bet North rivals, but club officials have become increasingly concerned by the fact that they have struggled to get near the 200-mark in recent months.
The division’s lowest crowd this season – just 105 – watched Vauxhall beat Solihull Moors 2-1 in September, while the Boxing Day clash with Colwyn Bay drew in 168 fans.
The club’s committee will meet later this month to discuss ways of attracting more fans.
Club chairman Alan Bartlam said: “It’s something we’ve been talking about a lot. The broad situation is that gates of the size we have been getting cannot sustain a club at Blue Square Bet North level. We have got to wake up the community to the great football on offer to them down the road at Rivacre Park.
“It’s hard enough to operate a club on gates of 220. We’re now talking significantly less than that, so it’s not good at all.”
Plans are being put in place to offer ‘two-for-one’ admission for the match against Corby Town on Saturday, January 26. Bartlam hopes to convince existing fans to bring a friend to the game. More details will be announced later this month.
He said: “People who come here regularly know how good the football on offer is. We hope our fans will run with the idea.”
Bartlam said that there are plenty of options to consider when club officials gather for their ‘brain-storming’ session.
Switching to playing on Friday evenings – avoiding Saturday afternoon clashes with Premier League football and other local sides like Chester FC and Tranmere Rovers – is ‘very much on the agenda’ for discussion, according to Bartlam.
The club will also look at ways of working with local schools to attract more young supporters.
Vauxhall’s average home attendance for this season looks healthy enough – 300-plus – because a crowd of 1,752 watched the game against neighbours Chester FC in October, the vast majority of them supporters of Neil Young’s team. Taking the Chester game out of the equation, the average home attendance for league games this season has been 195.
The small crowds put a strain on Vauxhall’s finances, but boss Carl Macauley has managed to work a minor footballing miracle by putting together a cut-price team which currently occupies a mid-table spot.
The Motormen travelled to Colwyn Bay yesterday, as the Pioneer went to press. Vauxhall are away to Oxford City this Saturday (3pm).
Saturday’s West Cheshire League programme was hit by the wet weather, but Ellesmere Port managed to play in Division One.
They won 3-1 at Southport Trinity thanks to goals from Haydn Cooper, Tom Gould and Phil Coffin.