Newcastle fans keep the faith as ticket sales near 25,000

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The Independent Football

The team has just been relegated, the club has been up for sale for eight weeks with no deal in sight, there is no permanent manager, there have been no new signings and official communication is kept to a minimum from those who remain reluctantly in charge, yet at Newcastle United the blind faith of fans is such that almost 25,000 season tickets have been sold already this summer.

With 26 days to go until Newcastle's first Championship game at St James' Park – against Reading – there is time for many more to set aside their dismay at the running of the club by the owner Mike Ashley and join the other subscribers. With an away capacity of 3,000, and with Newcastle likely to attract large visiting crowds, it means St James' is unlikely to host league games with attendances below 30,000.

Newcastle did not present comparable figures last season but despite relegation and a season of three managers, the average St. James' attendance was more than 48,000.

In a rare bout of dialogue, Newcastle released the figure yesterday to counter reports of a massive downturn. But beyond a few words from managing director Derek Llambias – "We are trying hard. There is serious interest and it's a case of first past the post" – there was no official update on the state of the sale of Newcastle.

Steve McMahon, spokesman for the Singapore-based Profitable Group that is still pushing to buy – though not at Ashley's £100m asking price – reiterated Profitable's aim yesterday but warned: "If we don't hear anything back by the end of the week, it doesn't look hopeful."

Paying the price: Season ticket costs

How clubs' cheapest adult season ticket prices compare:

*Premier League

Arsenal: £855

Manchester United: £513

Sunderland: £350

*Championship

Sheffield United: £349

Leicester City: £318

Newcastle United: £300

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