Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has labelled the clubs supporters “Incredible” despite the club returning at least 10,000 tickets for this weekend’s FA Cup Semi-Final.
Yesterday, it was revealed that the Greater Manchester club were to return a third of their 31,000 allocation against Milwall on Saturday.
However, the 39-year-old manager has praised the number of tickets sold. He said: “You look back to 1995, when I arrived at the football club, we had gates of 2,000 people.
“It’s an incredible turnaround, so for us it is a success”
The Football Association announced that it will open a 6,000 capacity neutral zone, as well as making 1,500 tickets available to those in the Armed Forces. Around 14,000 empty seats are expected, despite Milwall selling their full allocation.
But Martinez, who has been manager since 2009, believes that the focus on attendances is irrelevant.
In his pre-match press conference Martinez said:
“It’s not about the numbers. The numbers need to have a meaning. It is an incredible percentage of the town.
“We are in the best league in the world, we are in the semi-final of the best cup competition.”
He continued: “What’s important is that every year we increase our fan base and the feeling of being attached to our football club.”
Wigan, a predominately rugby based town, has a population of around 80,000. The news about the semi-final at Wembley is no shock considering the clubs average attendance of just below 19,000 this season.
Jason Taylor, a committee member of the Wigan Athletic Supporters’ club, told BBC Sport that the low turnout might be because fans are unable to travel to London by train.
Saturdays kick off time is 17:15 BST meaning fans would struggle to catch the last train heading back to Wigan at 20:30.
Taylor also added that some supporters are sacrificing the semi-final to save money for, if Wigan were to reach the showpiece final. Wigan have never made it to the final since being founded in 1932.
The news will be a blow to the FA, after it was earlier announced that attendances for the 5th and 6th rounds were the highest in 30 years.
Written by Craig Lishman
Follow Craig on Twitter @CraigLishman
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