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Suzanne Geldard: The fans can play a crucial role for Clarets
BURNLEY co-chairman John Banaszkiewicz has made an impassioned plea to supporters to get behind the club's promotion bid.
Given the season the Clarets are having, it is unfathomable that his actions were even necessary.
But Banaszkiewicz has felt the need to bang the drum, and when looking at the statistics it is easy to see why.
While Burnley have enjoyed a place in the Championship's top three since September, attendances have failed to reach similar highs.
The 16,074 who saw Burnley beat Queens Park Rangers in late October remains the best crowd at Turf Moor four months on.
Since then, numbers have hit the 12,000s just once, for the visit of Bournemouth and return of former boss Eddie Howe in November.
Second placed Burnley go into Saturday’s home game with top six rivals Nottingham Forest boasting a two-point lead over Derby.
They are unbeaten at Turf Moor in 19 league games – a post-war record – and yet their spectacular efforts are in no way mirrored by the numbers watching them week in, week out.
When Burnley won promotion in 2008/09 they started the season in front of 11,312, when they hosted Ipswich in their first home game.
By the new year that figure had improved to 13,740, and was better still by the end of January, when 14,404 saw them beat Charlton.
On the final day of the season, when the Clarets needed to beat Bristol City to guarantee a play-off place, there were 18,005 at Turf Moor, with the majority roaring them on.
This season has got better and better for Burnley, but incredibly, since the New Year's Day visit of Huddersfield Town attendance figures have dropped from 14,047 by almost 3,000, to 11,502 for the last home game against Millwall.
Although they are set to be boosted by a big gate against Forest, and then again at home to Derby County – two crunch clashes – big numbers are proving hard to sustain.
The Clarets have come up with new initiatives to try to enhance home crowds, such as the Flexi-Ticket, providing fans who – for whatever reason – don’t want the commitment of a season ticket or even half-seats ticket with six-game and four-game packages. More than 1,000 of these have been sold.
However, while the price category system has been designed to attract better numbers to so-called less attractive games, it has caused confusion, with ‘walk-on’ fans not knowing how much they will need to pay from one week to the next, so perhaps that is something to be addressed going forward. To their credit, the club boast the sixth best average away following in the Championship.
Just over 1,400 made the trip to Bournemouth last weekend, contributing to an average of 1,500 fans away from home.
There is a hardcore of supporters who will go the length and breadth of the country for their beloved team, whatever the cost.
It is unquestionably appreciated by manager Sean Dyche and his players.
They want to pack plenty more in at home to fuel their final push.
There is no doubt football has become an expensive business, and Burnley are not immune to price increases. But in comparison to the rest of the division they are on a relative par with their peers.
And right now they are certainly offering value for money.
There are just eight home games left. Miss them, and you might miss out on something special.
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