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Watford CEO Scott Duxbury targets 15,000 crowd at Vicarage Road every week
Watford's chief executive hopes the club can raise the average attendance at Vicarage Road this season to around 15,000 – an increase of more than 3,000 compared to the number who currently watch the Hornets regularly.
The Golden Boys’ average attendance in the Championship this season, prior to Saturday, was 11,700 but CEO Scott Duxbury is confident that figure can be increased significantly, after a crowd of almost 16,000 was recorded against Peterborough United at the weekend.
The game was a ‘Family Day’ fixture, with tickets costing £10 for adults and £1 for Under-16s.
Saturday’s crowd has provided Duxbury with optimism and he is hoping a couple of new initiatives will help raise the club’s average attendance in the future.
Duxbury said: “We would like 15,000 fans every Saturday. I appreciate that different times for games, such as being on Sky, will always have an effect.
“But for the traditional 3pm games on a Saturday, I would like to be getting 15,000 regularly.
“That would then give us the platform to build the East Stand and we can then look at trying to get 20,000/25,000 when the team are where we want it to be.
“But I really think there is a strong 15,000 attendance here that we can achieve week-in week-out. I don’t think that is an unrealistic expectation and the stats on Saturday proved it.”
When asked about a rough time-scale for such improvements, Duxbury replied: “I think it can be a lot shorter than that [two to five years]. It is about creating the right price plan and being successful.”
Duxbury stated the current attendances are “where we thought they should be” and said he has been impressed with the club’s supporters so far, adding “they are really educated when it comes to football and they are patient”.
Watford have launched two new ticket schemes in the past week which they hope will increase attendances.
One is reducing adult tickets for the November 6 clash with Millwall to £19, or £24 in the Upper Rous, if tickets are purchased in advance of the game.
The second offer is £40 for two adult and two under-16 tickets in the Family Stand for the next five home games.
Duxbury stated that if the £40 offer proves successful then it will be used for the rest of the season.
He said: “It is two-fold; we want to get the next generation of young fans here before the Arsenals and Chelseas take them and we want to start filling the stadium.
“I think one of the first things I said when I came to the club is that we will build the new East Stand as soon as we have the demand for it. We can’t just do it as an ego purchase.
“We want this stadium full week-in week-out and then it will be an absolute necessity that we build the East Stand.
“So we are trying the new initiatives, we are trying to build a team that is attractive and we want to make sure people are not financially priced out.
“The season ticket will always be the best value way to see the team but we understand that certain fans can’t commit to all season.
“So we are trying to create a price point that will ensure games like Saturday are full every week.”
Watford’s average attendance during the Premier League season of 2006/07 was just short of 19,000 so Duxbury claims the club does have the supporters needed to reach the figures.
He believes Zola’s style of football will encourage fans to return to Vicarage Road.
Duxbury said: “You have to remember we are in the entertainment business.
“People are going to turn up and want to be entertained and I think that is what Gianfranco’s team are doing.
“I think it really helped on Saturday that people saw the kind of football we can play.
“If that continues, if we can play attractive football and are successful in this division, which I believe we will be, then I think that, along with the combination of our new family-priced package, should see us increase attendances quickly.
“There are a lot of Watford fans out there but not all of them turn up. So we are trying to encourage them to come back and watch the team.
“Attendances in the Premier League were significantly higher than this, so the fan base is there, we just need them to come back.”