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Football: FanScene: TALKING TURNSTILES.

Byline: PETER DAVIES

HOW can Racecourse gates be improved? It's an age-old question, but in the third division it's one that's as topical as ever.

The Reds have now played 10 home league games, and Saturday's match against Hull City was watched by a crowd of 4,412 - the highest so far this season.

Before that, Racecourse gates had been pretty average: in ascending order - 2,968 (Exeter), 3,105 (Bournemouth), 3,293 (Boston), 3,312 (Lincoln), 3,495 (Leyton Orient), 3,555 (Swansea), 3,591 (Oxford), 3,941 (Bury) and 4,340 (Rochdale).

So far the average home gate is 3,601, which leaves Wrexham in 13th place in the third division's attendance league table - a rather undistinguished position.

The rest of the table makes interesting reading. As one would expect, big-city clubs Hull and Bristol Rovers are out in front (with average home gates of 9,323 and 6,684 respectively). The Pirates are currently 22nd in the real table - so respect to their supporters and the mar-keting department.Three teams regularly play in front of 5,000-plus gates - Bournemouth, Oxford and Carlisle - and three in front of 4,000-plus crowds - Hartlepool, Cambridge and Leyton Orient.

Alongside Wrexham in the 3,000-plus category are Swansea, Rushden and Diamonds, Southend, York, Exeter, Lincoln, Darlington, Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe, Torquay and Boston.

The clubs with the smallest crowds are Bury, Rochdale, Kidderminster and Macclesfield, the lowest with an average of 2,068.

It is interesting that three out of the four worst-supported clubs are ex-Conference outfits (league football is clearly not that much of an added attraction) and that Carlisle can still pull in over 5,000 per game, which is impressive given Brunton Park's remoteness.

Wrexham is a small town which has lots of big clubs within easy reach on a Saturday afternoon, so an average gate of 3,601 is nothing to be ashamed of - especially when the team hasn't yet hit top form.

But I am still underwhelmed by the marketing efforts of the club's commercial department.

Messrs Guterman, Wingrove and Sadler are excellent individuals to have at the helm of a football club, but there seems to be little of a concerted, proactive nature going on in terms of attendance-raising initiatives.

In a recent interview commercial man-ager Bill Wingrove said: ``We want to attract more people to games, but we don't want to make false promises.

``I have heard that the `kid for a quid' scheme has been tried, tested and has been successful in the past, and I have seen other clubs doing it regularly. You can be certain that we will again be trying this before Christmas.''

This is all fair enough, and the `kid-aquid' scheme will be tried again at the Kidderminster fixture on December 21.

But Wrexham's average home gate last year was 3,794, and this year it's 3,601. Granted, the figure hasn't nosedived after relegation, but neither has it improved, as one might expect in a promotion-chasing year.

The message to the marketing people at WFC is simple: keep at it!
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 11, 2002
Words:510
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