Alan Biggs at Large: The numbers are starting to stack up for well-supported Sheffield Wednesday

Stuart Gray
Stuart Gray
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There has been much talk of Sheffield Wednesday “punching above their weight” this season, not least in this vicinity. But consider this: Wednesday have the sixth highest home attendances in the Championship. What is to stop them finishing in sixth place on the field as well?

In one sense the answer would be plenty - in terms of the quality, depth and sheer competitiveness of this breakneck league. But all of a sudden the possibility of the Owls hitting a play-off spot cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Indeed, former player and manager Chris Turner actually tipped them for it when we spoke last week. He reasoned that the sort of spirit and togetherness Stuart Gray has fostered can take a team a long way, maybe further than its apparent strength on paper.

That, for sure, has been the story of the season so far as Wednesday, in ninth spot, look to close behind third-placed visitors Watford at Hillsborough on Saturday.

They will have, as ever, one of the best gates of the day. In a league of heavyweight clubs, the Owls are averaging nearly 23,000 and are top of the table for away support with an average of more than 2,000 travellers, restricted by home club allocations.

At Hillsborough, I am told, attendances are up by eight per cent on the same time last season. Of course, that could be explained by the upturn in results, though it does fly against the economic climate that has seen downturns elsewhere, and I’m hearing that Wednesday are formulating more schemes to help fill the stadium rather than leave half the seats empty.

It’s a delicate balance in fairness to the money laid out by the club’s 14,500 season ticket holders and the Owls will have just one more big concessions day (£5 and £10) after pulling nearly 30,000 for the first, the recent win over Reading. But family ticket discounts are apparently proving a big draw.

Overall, the attendance initiative - the subject of top level meetings this week - is further evidence of a change of emphasis since the breakdown of last summer’s projected takeover. After making two key additions to the business and commercial side, owner Milan Mandaric is clearly intent on making the club stronger. If that also makes it more attractive to a buyer then, to some extent, all well and good.

But you detect the focus is much more fixed on those two league tables - attendances and on-field - and the powerful chemistry between them.

An infusion of quality, albeit just two players in key positions, may still be needed to maximise the connection and you feel that is a point not missed by the Hillsborough hierarchy.