WANDERERS’ gamble on ‘going early’ with their season ticket sales has proved a resounding success.

Fresh from a campaign where the Whites were watched by records numbers as a third-tier team, next year’s number look like climbing even higher.

An average gate just shy of 15,500 at the UniBol eclipsed anything the club had managed before – even during the memorable promotion campaigns of 1973, 1993 or 2017.

Chief executive officer Neil Hart has now confirmed to The Bolton News that season ticket sales have already exceeded those for 2021/22 with several weeks remaining before the curtain raises on League One.

And with more than 1,000 of last season’s regulars still to renew, he is proud to report that business is booming in BL6.

“We have already hit the target I thought we’d make and I think the numbers we have seen have surpassed a lot of other people’s expectations,” he said.

“Last season, 21/22, we were on 10,500 at the end of the season. We ran an early bird offer as you know in February and reduced prices, took kids’ tickets down to £35 – about £1.50 a game. We closed the offer on March 31 at 12,070, which is phenomenal.

“We sit here today having reopened on an increased price model since April, but still similar to what they were last season, and we have 12,609. That’s right now – 2pm on Thursday, May 12.

“That is an amazing return because we still have weeks to go and they will be on sale until the first home game of the season, back end of July.

“Where will we get to? I think 13,000-13,500, maybe even beyond. And interestingly, of last season’s 10,500, we have 1,100 yet to renew. I am hoping most of them do because that would put us in excess of 13,500, which would be incredible.

“There are a number of reasons behind that – one is the pricing structure and two is the football. The job Ian and the team has done has brought people in to watch, then there is the whole community factor and the fact Sharon Brittan and the board have brought that feeling back to the football club.

“Danny Scott, who is our ticketing manager and many people will know him, rang me the other day to remind me that this time last year – and this was before I arrived – we would only be going on sale now.

“To be in a position where we have sold that number already is so rewarding.”

Fans returned to football in number after the pandemic but when Hart pitched the idea of putting season tickets on sale way before the regular summer date, all eyes were fixed on how the move would pan out.

But boosted by a strong finish to the season and a style of football which has kept people coming back, the CEO predicts average crowd could top 16,000 next term.

“We can’t hide from the fact that winning football matches and playing an attractive style of football helps the club commercially,” he said.

“It all knits nicely together. Even at the time when we were thinking about launching the early season ticket we had been through a difficult November and December.

"We got to January and thought about what we could do in the window through the work of Ian and Chris Markham, we delivered it and then launched first week of February hoping it would line-up with things improving on the pitch. Thankfully it ended up pretty well.”

Fans have until 1pm today (Saturday) to purchase their season ticket on a 10-month Direct Debit plan. Click here to sign up.