Since Tranmere Rovers dropped into what is now called League One ten seasons ago, attendances at Prenton Park have fallen significantly.
In their first season following relegation into the division, the Birkenhead club had an average attendance of around 8,000. This season, the figure is sinking towards the 5,000 mark.
As a cost cutting measure, last summer the club announced that the upper tier of the Kop stand and part of the Borough Road stand would be closed to supporters.
Financially, the decision makes great sense. There’s little point in paying for unnecessary stewarding and policing when the ground is half empty each week. Bringing the fans closer together makes this job easier and saves a few pennies in the process.
There are some people who may feel that bringing everyone closer together should make for a better atmosphere within the ground. After five home fixtures this season, I have to say this is not what has happened.
The unfortunate part of the club’s decision was that the parts of the ground they decided to close were two popular areas for the more vocal support. I’m not sure if these people are still coming to the games. With attendances still falling, and the noise levels too, it may suggest that they’re staying away.
It would not make sense for the club to change their decision. On financial grounds alone, it makes sense to do so. However, it's crucial that the vociferous section of supporters return to Prenton Park if they’re now staying away.
I’m a big believer in ‘the 12th man in the stands’. Support from the crowd, I believe, really does help the players on the pitch. When they may feel tired, a boost of support from the fans can carry them to run that extra yard.
Prenton Park used to be a fortress. Tranmere had a superb home record back in the 1990s in the Johnny King era. They would hardly lose a home game.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.