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Spireites season ticket sales soaring: what's keeping loyalty intact at the Proact?

Chesterfield season ticket sales have gone past 2,600 upon the end of their early bird discount offer period.

Despite reduced season ticket prices failing to please many, Chesterfield supporters are yet finding it difficult to resist renewing their memberships, and Wednesday saw the season ticket club officially reach 2,000 members for the 2018/19 season.

As the early bird discount offer came to an end on Saturday, season ticket sales were reported to be at over 2,400, and a club statement revealed that 2,647 were sold as of Sunday.

Season tickets alone would have put Chesterfield within the top five average attendances in the National League last season, with only Tranmere, Wrexham, Leyton Orient and Hartlepool averaging attendances higher than 2,600 during the 2017/18 campaign.

But after three years of misery and football to forget and even threats of boycotting the club, why are Spireites fans suddenly finding the heart to give it one more season?

It was, in fact, the positive influence of new boss Martin Allen which changed the minds of many.

Supporter Jimmy Rushton said that he stopped renewing his season ticket three years ago after many key players were sold by the club, but Allen has brought back a feel-good factor.

"Last season I dreaded Saturdays coming around, but as soon as Martin arrived the whole atmosphere around the club has changed," he said.

Allen's impact even convinced supporter Nigel Wright to buy his first season ticket in 20 years in addition to his daughter's first ever, saying: "while there are some aspects about the club that could undoubtedly have been handled better, it is at times like these that we need to get behind the club, to a man."

It's been a while since we've had sights like this at the Proact Stadium.

To others, it was never truly in doubt that they would be turning up at the ticket office once again.

"It was never in doubt to renew," said Spireites fan Eric Lowe.

"Me my brother and his friend make it a social occasion and although last season was a big disappointment, it's a new start with a manager that is a breath of fresh air and a brand new set of players."

It was a simple decision for Michelle McIntyre, who said that she renewed because "I support the club through thick and thin.

"I want the club to survive for (son) Jake and the next generation and the generation after that."

But despite new-found optimism amongst supporters, for some the arrival of Martin Allen and his people skills simply wasn't an attractive enough reason to keep renewing through tough times.

Rosemary Norman highlighted her disappointment in season ticket pricing, saying that there was not enough value in renewing.

With supporters finding the will to keep coming back, there is now curiosity over how many season tickets the club will manage to sell before the season commences in August.


Talking points: A credit to their club and to football

Talking to Chesterfield fans about why they did or did not renew gives just a taste of the passion and loyalty that they have for their club, despite so much going wrong and so little going right over the past few seasons.

Although it remains an undeniable truth rather than a cliche that clubs are nothing without their supporters' backing - especially in the lower leagues - it's hard to blame those who decided to walk away from season ticket renewal.

After constant under-performance and recurrence of scandal, some fans have simply had to draw a line in the sand over how far they are willing to go to financially support their club.

With that being said, however, it goes without saying that those who have stuck around for the long fight are a true credit to both Chesterfield Football Club and to the game itself, and so would say supporters of fellow National League-ers Leyton Orient and Hartlepool United, two clubs who know the pain that Blues fans have suffered.

Chesterfield fans have set a shining example for others to follow; despite the hardship of the past three seasons and the poor decisions made by the club's bosses, the supporters still hold up their end.


Talking points: One Allen balances out the other

Credit too should go to the new gaffer; two club legends have been and gone since the Paul Cook days, and neither were able to install the feel-good factor that Martin Allen has firmly reinstated.

Allen's connection with the fans could be what saves next season from being a break rather than a make, with the relationship between majority shareholder Dave Allen, club secretary Ashley Carson and the supporters being at its most hostile yet.

Promising signings made so far by Martin Allen can also allow for optimism in the supporters' camp, and perhaps his transfer business will yet convince more to buy their seat for the season.

But regardless of where Martin Allen's side finish next season, supporters can hold their heads up high and know that they were there for the club when it needed them more than ever.

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