Falling Attendances - Myth Or Reality?
We've already highlighted David Conn's article in today's Guardian but there's comments in there that deserve further analysis.
"The issue of falling attendances is clearly a challenge for the whole of football," Mackintosh says, adding that fans have been turned off by inconvenient kick-off times, poor-quality football and the fact that matches can be watched live, for free, in pubs.
Read on a little: They (the club) accept, though, that outside the top few and the excited newly promoted sides, the remaining Premier League clubs are struggling to maintain crowds paying high prices for the commercialised football experience.
So is this true - are the blocks of empty seats we see every game just a symptom of a general malaise across the top-flight division?
We've checked this out and have looked at average attendances for the 17 teams that were in last season's premiership and also in this one. (Figures from ESPNsoccernet). Total average attendances for all those clubs so far this season are up, at over 610,000 against over 590,000 last season. However, both Manchester United and Arsenal have increased their capacity this season so we need to take the 29,000 combined increase out.
This leaves us with 581,535 across the remaining 15 clubs, against 590,799 the previous season. So across 15 clubs that's a fall of just over 9,000, or 600 per club on average. So certainly a fall, on a like-for-like basis.
If you look at individual changes though, there is a wide variation. Some clubs (Aston Villa, Fulham, West Ham & Blackburn - hardly the top few or newly promoted) have actually increased their averages. Some (including Spurs, Chelsea & Liverpool) have suffered average decreases of up to 600 fans.
At the bottom of the list, four clubs have seen significant decreases. Newcastle have lost 1,807, Bolton 1,873, Wigan 2,897 and finally our very own Manchester City, who have lost 3,992 from last season to this. So 43% of these 9,000 lost fans have been lost from CoMS.
To look at it another way, for the first couple of season at CoMS, we had the third highest attendances, after Manchester United & Newcastle. Arsenal have increased their capacity on their move to the Emirates stadium so we would be in fourth place anyway. However, this season Liverpool & Chelsea have overtaken us and next season may see us fall behind Everton, Spurs & Aston Villa. If West Ham stay up then it is possible that they will overtake us as well.
So is this issue a challenge for the whole of football or are some more challenged than others?