Newcastle season ticket holders have been offered an additional free half-season ticket.

Season ticket holders can nominate a fellow supporter for a free ticket covering 10 home Premier League games, starting against Everton on December 28 and also featuring appointments with Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.

“After discussions between head coach Steve Bruce and managing director Lee Charnley, subject to eligibility criteria, the Magpies will gift a half-season ticket to qualifying nominees by existing season ticket holders on a first come, first served basis,” the club said.

And Bruce added: “The supporters have been nothing short of magnificent since I arrived in the summer.

“To have the crowds we have is wonderful, and we can’t ever take that for granted, but the question to all of us at the club is can we pack the stadium to the rafters?

“It starts with results on the pitch, but I hope a gesture like this will help us to fill the place because St James’ Park in full voice is a force to be reckoned with.”

Toon For Change, a Newcastle United supporters’ group, described the move as “desperate” after just 42,303 fans attended St James’ Park on Saturday against Southampton – the Magpies’ lowest crowd for nine years.

A statement read: “Following the lowest attendance at St James’ Park for a league match since November 2010 at the weekend, the club has announced today that it will give away free half-season tickets, in a desperate move from a hierarchy that is clearly on the ropes.

“The thousands of empty seats week-in-week-out at St James’ Park are a result supporters vowing to not return to the stadium until (owner Mike) Ashley sells our football club.

“These same empty seats are an ongoing PR disaster for Mike Ashley, whose sports brand is now associated with an unhappy fanbase, that has been left with no option but to boycott their own stadium for emotional, not financial reasons.

“Today’s move from the club is nothing more than a way to try and win over supporters. We will continue to call on fans to stand their ground and remember that every empty seat not only sends a message regarding Ashley, but also makes St James’ a less attractive proposition for broadcasters like Sky and BT.

“This is typical Ashley, who is hoping that yet again we will just forgive and forget, while applying his bargain bin business model to Newcastle United.”