PHIL Gartside has warned Wanderers fans they could lose Nicolas Anelka if they don't start packing the Reebok.

The Bolton chairman fears the world class striker could become disillusioned if crowds don't start to pick up.

"If we want to keep players like Nicolas happy, we've got to give them the support they deserve," Gartside said in a personal plea to the stayaways.

Anelka's goals have helped fire Wanderers to fifth in the Premiership since he arrived in a record-breaking £8million transfer from the Turkish club, Fenerbahce, in August.

But his return to English football has coincided with a widespread slump in attendances that have hit the Whites hard with average gates dropping to just over 23,000 - 2,000 down on last season and 5,000 below capacity.

And, although Wanderers are planning to use the windfall from the new £2.7billion TV deal to keep ticket prices down next season, Gartside is hoping for a more immediate upturn in crowd figures to stoke up the atmosphere as the team pushes for a Champions League place.

The club has had only limited success with recent initiatives, including the offer to season ticket holders to buy extra tickets for friends and family at just £5 for last week's Charlton game.

Around 3,000 of the discounted tickets were sold, but Gartside revealed today that 2,500 season ticket holders missed the game.

"I can't understand that," the chairman said.

"Fans have to realise that they can actually help the players, especially the likes of Nicolas Anelka, who are used to playing in major stadiums in front of big crowds.

"We need to improve the atmosphere here."

Although Wanderers are repeating the "Bring a friend for a fiver" offer for Sunday's early afternoon home game against Fulham, Gartside said it was essential the club's core support also received incentives and benefits, such as the free coach travel supporters were offered for the recent FA Cup tie at Arsenal.

"For the sake of our season ticket holders, we can't keep discounting tickets," he said.

"But there are other incentives we can look at. People responded to the free travel offer for the Arsenal game and the players responded to their support with a great performance at The Emirates.

"We've got to look at incentives, but we've still got to be realistic and business-like about it. We're not milking it, we aren't making piles of money and we are putting a lot back into facilities. All that comes at a cost.

"Some of the TV money will go towards keeping the cost of football down for the fans. But we need the fans to get behind us now.

"The ones who are coming are doing a great job, but we need more bodies.

"The Arsenal replay won't be a problem but we need the boost of a good atmosphere for the Fulham game.

"It was disappointing to see that 2,500 season ticket holders didn't bother to turn up for the Charlton game. We could do with more than that on Sunday."