Carlisle United are today launching a major initiative aimed at attracting an 8,000 crowd to Brunton Park.

The Blues are targeting next month’s visit of promotion rivals MK Dons for what they hope will be a much-increased attendance.

The scheme, called #8kforMK, sees reduced ticket prices for the February 16 game along with club shop offers.

United also plan to spend the next four weeks carrying out promotional activities, many involving Steven Pressley’s first-team players, to spread the word.

Club officials hope it will provide a big boost to fourth-placed Carlisle’s bid to reach League One – and also lure back supporters who have drifted away from Brunton Park in recent times.

The Blues’ finance director Suzanne Kidd said: “We have eight home games left and, when looking at the fixtures, we felt the MK Dons game could be a really important one for both clubs.

“With the momentum from the recent good results and some of the great football we have been seeing, plus a new manager and the potential for more new players, there is a bit of a buzz that’s been missing for a while.

“It is good to have that back and we want to build on it.”

United have cut seating and standing ticket prices to £10 for adults.

Concessions – seniors and young adults aged 18-22 – can watch the game for £5.

Junior (seven-17) prices are £2 and under-7s go free. A supporter using a wheelchair can watch the game for £2 with their carer going free.

Those prices apply to tickets bought in advance and also on the day, United removing the increase which normally applies on matchday.

Anyone buying a ticket for the game can also claim a £5 discount on the price of a replica home shirt in the Blues Store. That offer is also available to season-ticket holders.

Those who buy their tickets online, meanwhile, will also be entered into a draw to win a signed United home shirt.

Kidd added: “The ticket office and the media team wanted to come up with something more than just a ticket promotion.

“It is a genuine desire to draw people back to Brunton Park and what we hope will be a very exciting point of the season.”

The pricing offer will also be available to MK Dons fans. The Buckinghamshire club are one place and one point behind Carlisle in the play-off places.

Kidd added: “The shirt discount offer, as part of this, is something we hope will encourage supporters to come in the club colours and create a sea of blue and a good atmosphere for the players.

“We plan to push the promotion in the local community with schools, community groups and our business community.

“There will also be a big social media campaign involving the players and there will be a massive effort from the club to get this out there.

“The staff have bags of enthusiasm about this and the club are backing them with the idea.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve done anything like this and we want it to be a big success.”

Highlighting the fact that season-ticket holders can take advantage of the club shop offer, Kidd said: “We are always conscious of the price they pay. This is the only offer we have done this year and we feel our season ticket holders still get good value for money.”

Tickets for the game go on sale at 10am today.

Kidd added: “The atmosphere at the last few home games has been excellent with the singing and the drums, and we want that to go further.

“This could be our season, and it would be great to go into the last run of games with everybody right behind us.

“Hopefully it is a chance to show some people who haven’t been for a while that there is exciting football being played at Brunton Park.”

Ticket office assistant Katie Mitchell added: “We have back-to-back Saturday home games in February and March, plus the MK Dons game comes in half-term.

“We felt it was a good chance to get behind what is happening on the pitch with the feel-good factor very much alive.

“It would be big for the club if we could get that 8,000 and we hope with a lot of hard work we can do it.

“It’s not just something we want to have an impact for one game, either. We hope it will have an effect on others too.

“We hope the players don’t see a bigger crowd as any extra pressure. It is support for them and we all want the same thing, which is promotion.

"We wanted to do something radical, but also keep our season ticket holders very much at the front of our minds.

“The discounts on offer are equivalent to a half-game saving on our season ticket packages, so we know they’ll be behind us."

Mitchell said United’s community sports trust would also be helping to spread the word.

She added that fans would be encouraged to bring flags and banners and have them displayed in the Waterworks End.

Manager Pressley also said he was fully behind the campaign.

He said: “The media team have been working hard on the ‘8K for MK’ [idea] and it’s a very catchy theme.

“We’d love to get 8,000. There was 4,500 at the weekend and it was a very positive atmosphere.

“I think the players deserve 8,000 supporters here. They’ve got this club in a terrific position, playing a very exciting style of football.

“We’re a one-city club with a lot of potential and a very loyal fanbase but with every team there are those supporters on the periphery of things.

“The club have slashed the price of tickets and it would give the team a huge boost to be coming out here in front of 8,000 supporters at Brunton Park.”

The ground has not seen an 8,000+ crowd since the League Two play-off semi-final first leg against Exeter in May 2017, which attracted 9,708.

In normal league fixtures, it is May 2015 and the visit of Hartlepool which last broke the 8k Brunton barrier with a crowd of 8,105.

Carlisle’s average home crowd in league games this season is 4,272, with their highest so far coming on Boxing Day when 5,465 watched the 6-0 win against Oldham.

Their most recent Brunton Park game, the 2-0 win against Cheltenham, drew 4,458.