Yeovil Town Commercial Manager Dave Linney talks to BBC Somerset presenter Emma Britton on Tuesday 1st October 2013, about large crowds at Huish Park.
EB: Let's talk attendances first. Were you expecting an average attendance of around 8,000?
DL: No, to be perfectly honest. We'd looked at the figures and looked at the teams heading to Yeovil and we were expecting between 6,500 and 7,000 as an average. Although we don't get carried away because in the first four games we've seen two ex-Premier League club come to Yeovil, including Reading and QPR. But also there was Birmingham and Derby. So we've had four big teams, and at the turn of the year we do have some of the lesser teams, without any disrespect to them.
EB: (coughing, and with mock indigence as a Leeds fan) Excuse me! Hold on! On 8th of February, Leeds United are coming to Yeovil Town them less attractive Dave, are you?
DL: No, I wasn't really thinking of Leeds United ...
DL: It was more the Barnsleys and the Millwalls ... don't you worry about that Emma!
EB: Oh that's fine. Just thought I'd check! So really to get a full assessment you'd need to take it over the season as a whole, I would imagine.
DL: Absolutely. We looked at all of the 23 home games. Fourteen clubs out of those 23 have never been to Huish Park before, therefore they'll have a big increase in their away supporters, as will the people in the town with their businesses, as we've just heard (on a preceding radio feature).
EB: We'll talk businesses in a minute, but what about the financial situation for the club, because these increased gate numbers and increased merchandise sales can only be a good thing.
DL: Absolutely - you're spot on with what you've said because the increased gates will bring in increased secondary spend to the club - i.e. the merchandise, the tea bars, hospitality. But that money is well spent. It gives us the money to spend on the facilities around the ground. The actual stadium itself is just over 20 years old, so it's in need of a bit of TLC. We've been able to do some jobs that we wouldn't have been able to do without these teams coming to Huish Park.
EB: Now because on the pitch isn't going quite so well, do you think that for this first season in the Championship, that results on the pitch won't have an effect because people are going to keep coming because Yeovil are in the Championship?
DL: There is an element to that - I must agree. But I've got to say that for anyone who has witnessed the first four home games, and heard your reports on BBC Somerset, would have said how well we played. In my view, with the green-tinted glasses, we've deserved to win three out of the four home games that we've had at Huish Park. So people are going away filled with confidence about the way that we are playing. We haven't been out-played. And I hope and I think that the results will come accordingly.
EB: Let's talk business then. We had a mixed response when we went into the town centre itself. Some of the cafes and coffee shops are reporting increased trade, particularly on matchdays, but Jason Livingstone from the Yeovil Chamber of Commerce said that the extra fan numbers aren't carrying through down to the town centre. Does that surprise you?
DL: Yes, it does somewhat, because as we've said, in those first four games and the first four teams that have come to Huish Park, they've actually brought the capacity of around 2,000 away supporters. They haven't just come down on the matchday. The majority do, of course, but some come for the weekend. Somerset is a lovely place to come to. It's not far from the Dorset coast too. So a lot of people are using it as a base to come here for a long weekend. I'm sure the hotels will have seen an increase. I would have thought that the shops in the town - as we've heard from some of the shops - have had an increase in sales from the football.
EB: Is there anything the club can do to help improve that situation?
DL: It's very difficult because the Championship is a good league and there's some attractive clubs coming to Huish Park. So we're hoping we can get on board, perhaps with some sort of a facility with traffic, especially from Pen Mill and from Yeovil Junction stations. It's not easily accessible to get to Huish Park from there, so we're looking at ways and hopefully we can get around that problem.
EB: Some people might say that it's not really the club's responsibility to help all the other businesses, and that perhaps those businesses need to think outside the box to get people through their doors?
DL: Well yes there's an argument for that as well. We can't all be laying the blame at Yeovil Town Football Club. We're bringing an extra 2,000 people into Somerset for each of the home games, every two weeks. If people concerned want to entice them to come into the town and spend some money there, then they've got to come up with some ideas.
EB: And I hate to ask this question, but I've got to - is the club trying to cash in now, in case relegation happens?
DL: No, not at all. We're under no illusions that when we got into this (Championship) league, that the difficult part would be staying in it. We have to maintain and make as much money as we can at this level, but we want to stay there for the simple reason that we need to make the money now to get some good players and some better players that will keep us in this league for the future. So we're looking at the long term plan and not just a short term fix.
EB: And tonight, you're playing Leicester City. How do you fancy your chances?
DL: Well if we continue with the way that we've played in the last four games, then we've got a chance. Leicester are riding high themselves. It always seems to be that any club that comes to Huish Park is doing well, like QPR, Reading and Derby who have all been to Huish Park. Leicester will make it no different from the other three games, but we're hoping that we can get the three points tonight and that can move us up the table a little bit.
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