Steve Waggott is holding out hope Rovers can reach their season ticket sales target, believing the club ‘couldn’t have done more’, as he looks to build the club’s core support.

Rovers host Charlton on the opening day of the Championship season with just over 8,500 season tickets sold, still short of the 10,000 target set by the club’s chief executive.

The club took the decision to freeze prices at last year’s early bird rate in a bid to attract more supporters, with 8,750 sold last season, in agreement with owners Venky’s.

Waggott revealed money generated from sales equates for up to 25 per cent of Rovers’ overall turnover, and told the Lancashire Telegraph: “The view is that we need to sell 10,000, it’s a quantum of cash we need.

“That’s what it’s about. How we get there is a different thing.

“I have some really big stretch targets commercially, and quite rightly.

“All the budgets were prepared before the end of the season and then we go off to India and sit down with the owners and go through them.

“And then we’re asking for a very competitive squad, can we have a transfer fund, can we have pay rises for staff? It’s all ask.

“I’m doing all that, but on the flip side we need the fans.

“I feel I have improved engagement with the fans since I’ve come in, I’ve been to every meeting I’ve been requested to, now can we get the conversion rate coming back?

“I understand the population and the demographic, there’s a lot of work to do as I mentioned on One Rovers Day.

“We have had a lot of focus on junior membership, with the BAME community there’s a big push with the composition of Blackburn, we have to target people who football isn’t their first love.

“We have to get them to start engaging with us so we can get that core support and try and nudge the average attendance up from the 14,000 mark.”

The club have campaigned hard to boost numbers ahead of the 2019/20 campaign and have also looked to improve the matchday experience inside Ewood Park for supporters with upgraded facilities.

He added: “The target has always been 10,000. We have been fairly aggressive with our pricing after getting approval from the owners to freeze the price at the early bird rate of last year.

“As a club we couldn’t have done more. Our campaigns have been fairly hard-hitting, wide-reaching, but ‘where is everyone?’

“I know there are mitigating reasons, with cash being tight and other things, but as a club we’ve held firm and I still hope get 10,000, that’s the trunk of the support tree.

“You get your hardcore number of season tickets, you get those who buy on matchday, but I think the value of the ticket is virtually eight or nine games free compared to walking up match by match.”

With Premier League prize money and parachute payments long gone, Waggott admits the importance of season tickets, and the money they generate during the off season, is vital to the club’s revenue stream.

“It’s much more in the lower leagues,” he said.

“I read some stats from the Premier League where gate money was about eight per cent of a club’s turnover.

“If we have targets of circa £4m for ticketing, that can be circa 20-25 per cent of our income.

“As we improve the squad that comes with a higher wage bill, improved contracts, because we’re trying to upgrade the squad in each window.

“I’m hoping the fans realise that when they look at the squad now compared to two or three years ago it’s stronger.

“We hadn’t sold a player (until David Raya) since I came in yet we’re buying good, young talent and spending considerable amounts of cash for our club.

“For our club it’s a big commitment.”

Tickets have a £3 surcharge when bought after 12pm on matchdays, while the introduction of A plus category has also drawn criticism from supporters.

Waggott hopes to sign up as many supporters to the 1875 membership scheme, but said of the matchday walk-up: “It’s considerable.

“We try and say that if you’re an 1875 member there’s no hike up price, I believe the fans call it ‘the Waggott tax’.

“They get a discount of £3 and with the membership being £15 it’s a no-brainer.

“The membership schemes are great.

“But it’s amazing the number of people that come after the watershed and pay the £3 uplift.

“I’m amazed, because it’s nearly a pint, or a pie.”

The decision to introduce a Category A plus, for games against Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, drew criticism from fans, with an adult ticket in the Jack Walker Upper, if bought after 12pm on a matchday, costing £48.

Fourteen of the 23 home matches are Category B matches, with the cheapest adult ticket costing £22.

Explaining the decision, Waggott said: “I had a lot of letters from fans about the cost of going to other clubs, in particular Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday where it can be £40 plus.

“I would like to have done reciprocal deals with these clubs but it wasn’t possible.

“Hence why I’ve said that we’d put another category in.

“However, there will be discounts applied depending on the membership of the fanbase.

“The away fans will be charged the full ticket value, (home fans will) unless they are part of a membership scheme in which they would a discount applied.”

The club’s chief executive also confirmed that away supporters, should the following be less than around 2,000, would again be housed in the upper tier of the Darwen End.

“Other clubs put our fans in certain parts of the stadium that aren’t next to the pitch,” he said.

“The general feel, there’s been different sides of the spectrum because there’s some that feel the away fans being nearer the pitch gives a better atmosphere which lifts the performance of the players.

“But then we can negate the noise of the away fans so I made the decision, with others in the club, that if they don’t reach a certain number they are going upstairs.”

Rovers announced new catering partners, Sodexo, with Waggott hoping fans will be able to see the benefits of that at home matches.

“We had 18 years with Northcote and they were an excellent partner of the club but it was time to move on, to adjust.

“Hopefully the fans will see a big uplift in the concourses. There will be digital screens, better offerings and hopefully queuing systems as well.

“The lounges systematically are going to be stripped back and modernised.

“Then we’re looking at the Darwen End eventually and what we do with that, it’s not just about matchday it’s the non-matchdays as well.

“We have to bring in cash and revenue.”