GLASGOW’S narrow loss in the RaboDirect PRO12 semi-finals for the third time in four years has only whet the appetite of supporters it appears, with the club predicting a record number of season ticket sales for 2013-14.
The Warriors revealed that more than 1,200 supporters have already bought tickets for next season with more than 25 per cent going to new season ticket holders. All seats not taken by 31 May will go on general sale and, having sold a little over 1,500 season books last season, Glasgow are now hopeful of beating that and surpassing Edinburgh’s 2,000 record before the new term kicks off in August.
The Warriors finished third in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season but lost narrowly, 17-15, to Leinster in Dublin for the second consecutive year. With 68 tries they finished as the top tryscorers in PRO12, a tally that was the third highest in a season since the Celtic League was formed in 2001.
After the busy transfer activity of last summer, Glasgow have focused largely on keeping what they have this term by re-signing 15 players who were out of contract, bringing back Scotland cap Richie Vernon from Sale and snapping up hookers Fraser Brown and Kevin Bryce.
The club is working hard to sign up more supporters too, with open days today (12pm-7.30pm) and on Saturday 1 June (11.30am-2.30pm), where fans can purchase season tickets in person and get a tour of the stadium. The British & Irish Lions game against the Barbarians will also be shown live at Scotstoun on Saturday 1 June (kick-off 12.30pm).
Glasgow Warriors’ managing director Nathan Bombrys said: “The support we received last season was fantastic, which created a real home-field advantage for our team. We are encouraged that our supporters have acted so quickly to get behind the team, and it’s great to have so many new members already on board.
“It takes significant support to win competitions like the RaboDirect PRO12 and the Heineken Cup, and the support of our season ticket members is a vital part of our efforts to bring a major club trophy to Glasgow.
“We still have a long way to go to match the levels of support enjoyed by some of our competitors in France and Ireland, but our season ticket membership sales over the last month show that there is a growing appetite for Glasgow Warriors in the west of Scotland.”
Edinburgh declined to provide their season ticket sales, but their supporters are habitually slower on the uptake – notably because there is no real clamour for seats in the 67,100-seater Murrayfield Stadium – and this season there are fears that their slide in the RaboDirect PRO12 over the past two seasons under now-departed coach Michael Bradley, a winless Heineken Cup campaign this term and failure to appoint a new coaching team will have a negative impact on ticket sales.
A new chief executive has been employed in David Davies, but there remains widespread concern at the set-up within the club, player signings in the past year and which coaches will take the club forward – in stark contrast to the mood in the west of Scotland.
An Edinburgh spokesperson said: “Edinburgh Rugby season ticket memberships are selling well and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the fans who have signed up already as we target surpassing last season’s record-breaking year.
“The freedom to roam around the ground means fans enjoy light-hearted banter with opposition supporters, as well as food, drink and alcohol at prices benchmarked against local establishments – all within a couple of metres of the tackles, tries and triumphs of the best players in European rugby.
“Add that to the re-opening of the stadium’s refurbished Presidents’ Suite pre and post-match supporters’ bar and it’s clear why fans keep coming back for more.”
Davies is working with the SRU to confirm the new coaching team as a matter of priority and to make signings to strengthen the squad in the way that Josh Strauss, Niko Matawalu and Sean Maitland did at Glasgow last season.
“As you would expect, these areas have been identified as priorities for the club with every endeavour being made to secure the right, rather than most readily available, personnel, as we look to build a bright future for Edinburgh Rugby,” added the spokesman.”
Glasgow season tickets (from £135 to £225 for adults) can be purchased online at www.glasgowwarriors.org and from the ticket office on 0844 800 3490, while Edinburgh tickets (£180 to £225) are available at www.edinburghrugby.org and at: 0131 346 5180.