Wolves Managing Director Laurie Dalrymple has explained the reasoning behind the ‘Raised by Wolves’ Season Ticket initiative as the club looks to try and improve attendances at Molineux.
Wolves this week announced a wave of measures to try and encourage supporters both to renew their Season Tickets, or return to buy one (click here for details), including fresh discounts for junior fans and the possibility of refunds for all purchasers if 16,500 are sold.
Dalrymple says it is vital to get as much support as possible to give the team the best chance of success.
“We’ve got a responsibility to start developing the fans of tomorrow,” he says.
“We’re really pleased with the reaction and pleased with the numbers.
“A few days in we are over 400 per cent up on the corresponding time of last season and that is really encouraging.
“The other crucial statistic is that 38 per cent of those are new.
“There’s a real fundamental desire to broaden our fanbase – I wouldn’t go as far as saying we’ve got an ageing fanbase but it veers more towards the 30-60-year-old age range.
“We’ve talked to a lot of fans who said their first game was with their Grandad, or their Dad, and I wonder if we’ve lost a bit of that.
“There’s a real element of wanting to get that back and we’re also conscious that we have had a bit of dis-engagement with fans over the past few seasons and we need to work hard to get that back.
“And it’s also loyalty to the group that have stuck with us through thick and thin, to say how much we appreciate it.
“Due to fixture changes it bounces around a bit but we want that feeling of: “it’s 3pm at Molineux on a Saturday, I’m with my Dad, my Mum, my mates, whoever, and it’s football time”.
“I think that’s there to a point. But we want to grow that feeling and that togetherness.”
Hitting 16,500 Season Ticket Holders will trigger a series of refunds which could cost the club a substantial amount of money.
But Dalrymple says nothing would give him greater pleasure to have to press the button on that outlay, because it would mean a sizeable and guaranteed level of support for the 2017/18 campaign.
He added: “We’ve got a financial model where ticketing delivers such a large part of our income that we can’t re-model that too much to the point where we have any less income from ticketing.
“But we’ve got 8,000 to 10,000 empty seats and we want more fans in the stadium.
“We’re really confident we can hit that figure. It won’t be easy but I think we will get there.
“I’d be really disappointed if we didn’t.
“We’ve got a responsibility to deliver a good fan experience that’s worthy of that payment to us – and a quality viewing spectacle on the field of play.
“And I mean this genuinely – nothing would give me greater pleasure than to get to 16,500 and start the refunds."
As with any Season Ticket campaign, the planning stage has taken several months of coming up with potential ideas and then doing the sums.
As it transpired, it was announced at a time when the team have been doing well and the feelgood factor very much returning to Molineux.
"The social media reaction was rewarding,” added Dalrymple.
"We’ve worked on it for quite some time and we knew we wanted to have a robust plan that coincided with strong performances.
"Back in August we made a statement that we wanted to fill Molineux again.
“At the time we placed a bit of the onus on the priority being playing good football – and I still believe that’s a huge part of getting bums on seats.
"We could give it away for free but if the football’s dire people won’t sit and watch it.
"We’ve always felt we’ve got a real responsibility to price it appropriately.
“I don’t think the pricing structure we have now is massively fractured anyway- when you come to the 4-4 Fulham game it’s more than value for money.
"But I’m acutely aware of the empty seats so we have to do something reasonably evolutionary to get those fans back in.
"There is a strategy behind it. And fortuitously we’ve got some really big games in the second half of the season.
"If we get through the next few games with some good results, then in terms of where we are, not just in terms of ticket sales but where we finish the season, the next month is massive for us."
* An extended interview with Laurie Dalrymple talking about the Season Ticket initiative, developments off the pitch and the record signing of Helder Costa will appear on Wolves Player and the club’s Official You Tube channel next week.