REGARDING Reebok attendances, the Wanderers could always investigate the FSA campaign for "safe standing".

If it is ever approved, turning the North Stand lower section (for example) into convertible standing/seating as at some top German grounds, could increase the Reebok capacity, provide cheaper entry prices, attract fans back who prefer standing, and improve the home crowd atmosphere.

Or perhaps variable match prices, depending on the standard of opposition.

But then again... I'm not sure that Bolton really is a "football town". With no other competing senior football or rugby club within a (current metropolitan) area of around 250,000 people, the Wanderers' average home attendances were seldom in the country's top 10 between the two World Wars, and never since 1936.

In 1958/59, when finishing fourth in Division One, they had only the 17th highest average (27,659). In 1964/65, when they came close to an immediate return to Division One after relegation, they had the 35th highest average (14,650) -- behind Plymouth, Swindon and Northampton.

Back in Division One in 1978/79, they reached 15th highest average (23,200). Last season's average (just over 25,000) was the highest since 1959/60.

The average attendance ranking from 1921 to 1992 was 24th -- behind Wolves, Birmingham, WBA, Leicester, Portsmouth, and Stoke. Solid big-town support, but is it "football town" support?

When the club was in the Premiership for the first time in 1995/96, was Burnden Park (with its terraces and lower prices and nearness to town) packed to its very limited capacity of around 21,500 for every game? No way!

And the Division One (new) championship season of 1996/97, the final season at Burnden? More than a third of attendances were under 15,000!

The Wanderers seem to have a loyal fan base, which, like most clubs, varies with the division it's in, but is rarely in the top ranking; plus a large secondary fan base which loves the biggest games, League or Cup, but which seems to look for excuses not to support the club for other games. At least, that's what the statistics indicate. And this is the real attendance problem the directors have to overcome.

Bernard Slater

Alderman's Hill

Palmers Green


PS. Pre-1992 Statistics from "Through the Turnstiles" by Brian Tabner (cover picture, ironically, is of fans queuing outside Burnden Park in 1947 -- waiting for the gates to open!).