Safety first keeps everybody happy

At league clubs across the country, it seems that attendances at games are down on last season, with away attendances struggling particularly badly. How can it be then that Norwich City can buck the trend, announcing home sell-outs for 90 of the last 101 league games at Carrow Road?One key reason is the exceptional loyalty and support that Norwich City supporters continually demonstrate to their club - both home and away.

At league clubs across the country, it seems that attendances at games are down on last season, with away attendances struggling particularly badly.

How can it be then that Norwich City can buck the trend, announcing home sell-outs for 90 of the last 101 league games at Carrow Road?

One key reason is the exceptional loyalty and support that Norwich City supporters continually demonstrate to their club - both home and away. But a large part of the reason is also that we have done our utmost over the last nine years to attract families back to Carrow Road. And this has been done by focussing on prices for families and young children, but also by making sure that Carrow Road is a place where families can enjoy their football in comfort and safety.

Time and again when we survey supporters, they tell us that the most important single factor of their matchday experience is safety. For fans to feel that the safety of them and those closest to them is of paramount concern to the club enables parents and grandparents to bring young children to Carrow Road with confidence; knowing that they can enjoy the excitement and passion of live football in an environment where the safety of their families will not be threatened. Hence so many sell-out crowds in recent years.

But when is a full house not a full house? I have received quite a number of emails from supporters asking how it can be that for the 'sold out' games against Colchester last Tuesday and Sunderland on Saturday, we announced attendances of 25,067 and 24,652 respectively, when our capacity is 26,018.

The answer is threefold: hundreds of seats cannot be sold because of the segregation netting separating the away supporters from the home fans in the Jarrold Stand, or because they are kept for Press use in the City Stand; the away club will not always sell out their allocation of seats; and we choose not to sell a number of seats because they are behind pillars.

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Since the current board was formed in 1996, we have made every effort to be as transparent as possible. And that is why we announce a 'turnout' percentage as well as an attendance figure. With all supporters entering the ground being counted electronically as they come in, we are able to calculate what percentage of the number of tickets sold for a game have been used.

Of course, not all season ticket holders can attend every game. So we have created a 'buyback' scheme that allows season ticket holders to sell their seat back to the club for individual games that they can't make. And this of course has the dual benefit of making more tickets available for casual sale on match days (at the buyback windows at the back of the Jarrold Stand) and allowing season ticket holders to enjoy a discount on the price of their next season ticket. For more information on the buyback scheme, or to register, season ticket holders just need to call the ticket office on 0870 444 1902.

At a time when season tickets are in such short supply (we already have more than 400 supporters on a waiting list), the buyback scheme is an innovative way of fulfilling demand for tickets. But with season tickets again due to be put on sale in the New Year, supporters can also put their names on the waiting list by putting down a £50 deposit.

To end, I have been asked by one supporter to make it clear in this column whether Peter Grant was put under any pressure to retain the existing coaching staff in order to save money; and whether Peter's apparent willingness to work with Doug Livermore, Martin Hunter and Keith Webb is what persuaded the board to give him the job. With all due respect to the individual concerned, any such suggestions are totally wrong.

All six interviewees for the manager's position were asked the same question: “what would your intentions be as to the existing coaching staff?” And all but one gave the same answer: if appointed, they would assess the existing staff and then make a decision as to whether such staff were good enough.

Quite simply, Peter was offered the job as manager because the board of directors, Dave Stringer and two senior club staff unanimously believed that he is the right man for the job. Any other considerations, as to staffing, finance, compensation or otherwise simply didn't come into the equation.

On The Ball, City!