Cleverley-effect as Watford post 90% season ticket renewals

However, today the club revealed more than 12,000 fans have already renewed using the early-deadline offer, meaning a little more than 90% of season-ticket holders have signed up for next season.

When former head coach Valerien Ismael left on March 9, Watford had won just one game in two months. Performances were poor, entertainment was low and there was a distinct cloud hanging over the club.

Many fans were quite vociferous on social media, podcasts and forums that this season was the straw that had broken the camel’s back, and they’d not be renewing when the chance came.

It was a wholly understandable viewpoint, and had the Hornets found themselves retaining three in four of existing season ticket holders – or less – then it wouldn’t have been a surprise.

However, the early renewal deadline passed a week ago – which allowed current season-ticket holders to purchase their seat for next season at the same price as the current campaign – and more than nine out of 10 have stepped up to renew.

Despite so few home victories during a season that has been very mid-table the Watford fans have once again showed loyalty at a level which exceeds what looked likely just those few weeks ago.

Of course, that lack of a home win since November 28 drags on, and the man who can do most about that is probably also the man who has seemingly reinvigorated both the squad and the fanbase.

There is a distinct Tom Cleverley effect, and while the interim head coach may only have won one of his six games, he’s only lost one as well – and that was in highly controversial circumstances at Southampton on Saturday.

Putting results to one side, what Cleverley has done in a very short space of time is something Watford fans readily latch onto – got the players performing with pride in the badge, and showing belief and attacking intent.

Some people may point to the ‘new manager bounce’, if such a thing even exists, but six games is quite a period for any synthetic feel-good factor connected to a new coach to last.

And further, this same group of players had performed to a high standard earlier in the season before totally losing their form in the New Year. It was within them to deliver, they had simply lost their way.

Many players have spoken both publicly and privately about how Cleverley’s character and personality has quickly galvanised the squad, as well as his personal knowledge of the players that he was a teammate of just last season.

It’s a perfect example of the benefits of continuity, something not seen since the Pozzos bought the club (if you exclude Billy McKinlay/Hayden Mullins’ combined six games in charge).

If ever there were a nudge to the owner that he may have found a coach that the fans and players believe in, then the six games so far coupled with a high rate of season ticket renewals is surely just that.

To be fair to the club – who have always been progressive in their pricing – the fact that early renewers will be paying the same price as they did for the 21/22 season is also a major factor in retaining so many of the fanbase.

Looking around at other clubs who have announced their 24/25 prices, the majority have put them up and, in some case, the rise is quite steep.

Also, fans being able to spread their purchase over 10 monthly interest-free payments has to play a significant part in making a season ticket affordable at a time when the cost of living and just about everything else seems to be increasing.

Enabling fans to pay the same price as they did two years ago and to spread that sum with no interest over 10 months via a direct debit is something the club should rightly get praise for.

Clubs don’t have to be as sympathetic as Watford, and many have shown exactly that.

But while the club are justifiably patting themselves on the back for doing everything within their gift to keep watching Watford affordable, they also need to work out who and what has made supporting the team enjoyable again.

Surely, if Watford achieve that long, long-awaited home win on Saturday, then the announcement that Cleverley has got the job on a permanent basis – giving him maximum time to prepare for next season – has to follow pretty soon?

• Season Ticket renewals have reopened and are now available at the standard price.

This sales window opened today (Thursday April 18) and will continue until Sunday April 28.

It follows the Early Renewal offer for season tickets, which came to an end on April 12.

After April 28, renewals will then close, allowing time for full processing, the annual ‘Seat Movement Window’ and preparation for sales of new season tickets.

Watford Observer | St. Albans News