Newcastle announced an offer on Monday allowing current season ticket holders to obtain a free extra season ticket for the remainder of the campaign, in a bid to fill empty seats.
Sunday’s attendance of just over 42,000 against Southampton was the lowest league crowd since November 2010, and considering it occurred while Newcastle are on a decent run, it was the biggest sign yet that they boycott by some fans is not blowing over.
Of course, this offer was likely to be in the pipeline before the last game, but there is little doubt that swathes of empty seats is not a great advertisement for Newcastle United as a brand.
In an article we wrote back in November, we said it is unlikely that attendance figures will be having much of an effect on club turnover, as with television money and advertising, gone are the days where supporters were the main source of income.
With that in mind, it is unlikely that desperation from Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley is the mitigating factor behind the offer, as 10,000 empty seats will barely register a dent in the club’s accounts.
It is more likely to be purely down to aesthetics – having a full stadium with no empty gaps and reaping the benefits that it brings with it.
Of course, as mentioned, empty seats have no direct impact on revenue, but there could be an indirect consequence.
Current and potential commercial partners will always want value for their money, and will not want to be associated with an unsuccessful club.
So in that regard, a full stadium, or one with visible empty seats, could be the difference between attracting lucrative advertising partnerships and sponsorship deals, or not.
Empty seats could impact any future interest in buying the club
The other knock-on effect is for potential interest in buying the club.
Any future new owner will want to buy into a club that has a full stadium, and one that is seen as a worthwhile investment. If there are empty seats everywhere, those future owners may well see it as a dying club, and not one worth investing in.
That said, it would be hoped that any potential bidder for Newcastle will have done due diligence, and be fully aware of the resentment between the fans and Ashley, and know those fans would be back in a heartbeat, if a new owner comes in.
So whatever the real reason behind the season ticket offer, it remains to be seen just how many fans take the club up on it, with them seeming to have timed it deliberately to coincide with Christmas, surely hoping to tempt families into the offer for Toon loving kids.