The campaign to improve the atmosphere in Reading’s South Stand has been declared a success after more than 800 fans flocked in to watch the Royals’ dramatic victory over Wigan.
The record attendance came almost a year after the launch of the Club 1871 campaign, which aims to increase the overall atmosphere at the Madejski Stadium due to the amount of away fan seating in the South Stand being reduced to make way for Royals supporters.
On Saturday, 15,401 fans flocked to the stadium for the Wigan game – with a record 870 fans seated in the newly created section of the South Stand.
A Club 1871 spokesperson said: “Our long-term goals and aims is to have a substantial amount of home fans within the south stand. We want to show that Reading fans can create an atmosphere and we can support the team for 90 minutes whether we are playing well or not. On Saturday, we did this.”
The match saw Reading beat Wigan 3-2, which took them above their opponents in the Championship and three places above the relegation zone.
The Berkshire-based side will be hoping they have what it takes to stay in the division this season to ensure that fan turnout remains strong.
The spokesperson added: “If we go down a division then the allocation of away fan seating may have to be looked into.
“The entire ground would have to be looked at as would we really get over 12,000 fans attending in League 1? The club could look at potentially opening just two stands for home fans like in a cup game.”
The decision to to reduce away fan seating allocation from 4,600 allocation to 2,200 has attracted some criticism. Some fans have hit out at this saying that the atmosphere has not improved and pointing out that the club has lost half the revenue they would have gained against teams such as Aston Villa and Leeds United.
To encourage attendance at Saturday’s match, Club 1871 worked with Heineken to give over 18s two free beer tokens in a bid to show people what it could be like when full.
And the improved atmosphere was praised by fans and no trouble was reported.
Reading FC supervisor, Terry Warren, said: “As the home fans are next to the away fans we didn’t want any trouble. That was our main worry, however it went smoothly and everyone enjoyed it. For a home game at Reading, regardless of the result, the atmosphere was terrific and this fan movement has brought everybody together.”
Despite the fan movement being a success at Saturday’s victory, it hasn’t always been looked on positively. A large amount of empty seats on numerous occasions this season, while the drum has also put off many a fan including one very honest steward.
Stewart Keefe, steward at Saturday’s game, said: “The atmosphere was brilliant, I haven’t seen Reading fans like that in a long long time. However, I think the drum should disappear. At other times in the season all you can hear is the drum and it drowns out the real fans who are chanting.”
I'm sorry but imagine if this was full 😍
We would absolutely kit this out with flags, banners and tifo.
We hope you got a taster of what we are about. All we want is a good atmosphere.
— Club 1871 (@Club1871) March 9, 2019
The Royals take on Leeds United tomorrow, where they’ll be hoping for another big crowd at the Madejski.