Stoke are just one of the clubs that usually struggle to bring a decent following to Newcastle.
Wednesday brought confirmation that Stoke fans had only bought 1,450 tickets by that point, despite away tickets going on sale almost four weeks in advance of the game.
Before the season kicked off, Stoke City announced (see below) that all 19 Premier League games this season would see the club paying for free coaches for any travelling fan wishing to take advantage of that.
A great initiative by the club and it is actually the fifth season in a row that they are offering the free travel to their fans.
In advance of the game, Stoke City didn’t even ask for the full 3,200 allocation they could have had, anticipating they wouldn’t bring the numbers.
Stoke City pre-season announcement:
‘STOKE CITY will continue to offer free coach travel to all Premier League away games for the fifth successive season – after a record uptake last term.
More than 12,500 fans took advantage of the Club’s complimentary travel offer to follow Mark Hughes’ men on the road during the 2016/17 Premier League campaign.
That takes the total number of supporters to have benefitted from the scheme to more than 45,000 since the Potters became the first club in any of England’s top four divisions to offer free away travel to their followers in 2013.
Coaches will once again leave the bet365 Stadium for all 19 of City’s top-flight matches in the 2017/18 campaign, starting with the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday, August 12 for the opening day showdown with Everton.
Chief Executive Tony Scholes said:
“We have been delighted with the way our supporters have embraced the free coach travel initiative; they are travelling to away games in significantly higher numbers than at any other time in our Premier League history.
“Last season we took an average of 1,896 fans to away games, an increase of 40 per cent on the away support we took to games before we introduced free travel.
“Before 2013, we were taking an average of three or four official supporters’ coaches to away games but now we’re taking an average of 14 coaches to each game.
“We have a fantastic backing, both at the bet365 Stadium and on the road, and we’re sure that will again be the case in our 10th successive season in the Premier League.”