5,000 reasons to be optimistic for Dons

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THE big kick-off might be over two months away, but the excitement amongst Dons fans seems to be mounting already – particularly if season ticket sales are anything to go by.

More than 5,000 fans have snapped theirs up, and the club looks on course to break the record of the 2009/10 season when 6,031 signed up to show their support for the whole campaign.

Dons’ new ‘football is a simple game and so are our prices’ campaign has clearly struck a chord with supporters, despite the disappointment of being consigned to another year in League 1 still fresh in the memory.

It took until late August for season ticket sales to break the 5,000 barrier last year. Indeed sales are up an impressive 13 per cent compared to early June 2011.

The total amount sold for 2011/12 was 5,168, including 119 half-season tickets bought during November and December.

Apart from the 2009/10 season that saw more than 6,000 sales, Dons’ average season ticket figure in the club’s five seasons at stadium:mk is around the 5,000 mark, but following a host of successful marketing promotions and offers – including a free ‘season ticket tour’ around the ground – the club could well make history before a ball has even been kicked in the 2012/13 season.

Club promotions to generate support from outside of Milton Keynes also appear to be bearing fruit, with Leighton Buzzard-based fans accounting for 700 of last year’s season tickets, followed by 500 from Buckingham and a couple of hundred from Aylesbury.

With an average home attendance of 8,659, Dons were the sixth best supported team in League 1 last season. The 5,060 season tickets sold for the new campaign, as of June 6, is more than the average attendance of 12 other teams in their division last term.

MK Dons Supporters Association chairman John Brockwell thinks the optimism from fans comes from the continuity of seeing the club’s stars remain at stadium:mk – including midfielder Stephen Gleeson who recently signed a new two-year deal – and of course manager Karl Robinson who has declared that he’ll still be in charge come the first game of the season in August.

“It shows we have a good hardcore fan base in MK,” he said. “There’s optimism from the fans because they can see the team that did well last season is going to be the same next, and people probably look at the teams that will be in League 1 next season and think we have a good chance of winning it.

“You look at the teams coming down from the Championship – Coventry, Portsmouth and Doncaster – plus a weakened Sheffield United, and you think we have a good chance. Why wouldn’t you want to be there?”

The good news regarding season ticket sales coincides with work on stadium:mk’s top tier entering a vital stage, with the additional 10,000 seats expected to be in place by November – taking the total capacity to 32,000.

However, the newly completed top tier is unlikely to be open to the public until the following season at the earliest, by which time the club hopes to have secured significant investment from selling the stadium naming rights.