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How can Boro bring back the fans?
IT was Bonfire Night, being broadcast on Sky and cost more than £20 a ticket for an adult.
Those are a few of the reasons, some would argue justifiable, that have been used to explain why the Riverside Stadium was less than half full on Saturday, with just 14,366 given as the official attendance.
Attendances have been on the decline for a number of years at the Riverside, it's just harsh on local hero Tony Mowbray that they have reached new lows under him.
With no cash to spend on transforming his squad in his first 12 months in charge, Mowbray has somehow turned Middlesbrough in to promotion contenders. Premier League football next season is not such a fanciful idea any more on Teesside.
But the sight of thousands upon thousands of empty red seats must be frustrating for the Boro boss and his players. Now is the time for the club to come up with a plan to try to get fans back.
Less than half of the Riverside's 35,000 capacity turned up to watch the 1-0 victory over Watford which lifted Middlesbrough back up to third in the Championship.
And while the fireworks display with the family at Stockton's Riverside may have proved more appealing with the family on Saturday night, the problem lies beyond November 5. Bonfire Night just helped to highlight it.
Middlesbrough have only hit the 18,000 mark once this season, for the opening day fixture with Portsmouth, which ended 2-2, and their home form has hardly been exceptional – but they have not been losing.
Middlesbrough have now won their last two in front of their own fans and Mowbray is managing to maintain promotion ambitions. Having more than 20,000 through the turnstiles would strengthen his cause.
Newcastle United have recently benefited from a 14-game season ticket offer by selling a further 4,000 tickets, while Hartlepool increased their attendances by more than double by coming up with their £100 deal season ticket deal.
Now Middlesbrough, with a successful season on the pitch becoming more likely by the week, must try to make the most of their promising start and help bring more fans back during difficult economic times.
Mowbray has always said the fans will come back with good football and positive results. Now it's time for the club and the fans to help prove him right.