BARNSLEY FC chief executive Khaled El-Ahmad has issued a ‘call to action’ to the Barnsley public to fill Oakwell for the play-off second leg a week today.
The stadium was sold out for the derby win over Sheffield Wednesday in March and the Reds want to sell every home ticket for the home leg on Friday, May 19 from 8pm.
The first leg of the semi-final at Bolton Wanderers is tomorrow from 3pm.
El-Ahmad told the Chronicle: “I want to give a call to action to everyone in this borough.
“Whether you like Barnsley or not, have been to Oakwell before or not – come next Friday. It will mean so much to the team and the club. Everyone should come. We should sell out.
“It will help the players and staff.
“I believe we have done well this year because we are getting closer to everyone being aligned.
“We have sold more than 8,000 season tickets for next season which is fantastic support.”
The away allocation for both ties has been reduced from maximum level, with only half of the two-tier stand at the University of Bolton Stadium tomorrow due to be occupied by Reds fans.
The allocation of 2,113 has sold out.
There will be a similar number of away fans at Oakwell on Friday, which is about half the number of Bolton fans for the January league fixture.
El-Ahmad said: “It was our choice.
“We looked at various scenarios that are good for the fans and the team and we decided on just over 2,000 at both games. It’s a combination of what we think is good for both clubs and also to provide a chance for as many Barnsley fans as possible to watch the game next Friday.”
The threshold for tickets available on Wednesday was initially announced as 100 loyalty points – based on attending previous games – then changed to 120.
“I understand the frustrations and I apologise. We have had technical issues and we’re trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We have had long queues at Oakwell. I have been bringing the fans teas and coffees and water. I brought the coaching staff out to speak to the fans in the queue.”
El-Ahmad has said throughout the season that he was hopeful of agreeing a new long-term lease of Oakwell with Barnsley Council.
“We have as strong as possible relationship with the council and discussions are underway. All parties want the same thing but we are not there yet.”
The chief executive said in an official club video released online earlier in the week that there was ‘exciting news’ soon to be announced.
He told the Chronicle: “We internally think the news is big. Otherwise I wouldn’t say it. When it is announced, people can decide for themselves if it is big and exciting to them.”
This has been Swede El-Ahmad’s first full season at Oakwell after taking over in September 2021, with the Reds on their way to a last-placed finish in the Championship. He said: “The general feeling last summer was that we would finish between eighth and 12th.
“That probably reflects our budget and our average attendance. That was the realistic approach to the season.
“But I always say we will win every game and you go into every season thinking and hoping.
“Everyone around the club is excited for the play-offs. I am proud of my colleagues and the team.
“We have pulled together after what happened last season, new staff, new players, injuries, snow, Beth (Sefton, the head of ticketing who has been seriously unwell), the death of a fan – there has always been something.
“I have experienced the MLS play-offs. It is a 50/50 chance. We have to take it one half at a time like Michael Duff says, but it is very exciting.”