Wednesday, February 28, 2007

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?


At 11:42 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't also the case that seasoncard holders like myself are automatically counted as attending all home games regardless of whether we are actually there or not? Also, next season crowds will bound to increase as thousands of under 16's take advantage of the seats us 'oldies' will doubtless give up in favour of access cards!

At 12:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The nil entertainment factor has a lot to do with the fall in attendances. We're boring to watch. 0-0 draws may get us the odd point, but a total lack of any attempt to play attacking football doesn't go down well with most of us. I wish I'd never heard of 3-5-2. We're going to be lucky to survive in the premiership this season.If we do get an investor,let's hope he makes getting rid of Macintosh,Pearce and Wigley his first priority.

At 2:18 pm, Anonymous barney daniels said...

Whilst the Club hide behind the "its a problem accross the Board "line then the real issues will not be addressed. Denial of the true facts will take us nearer to oblivion . When will these people listen?

At 4:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to remeber an article on a City fanzine site that layed out average attendnaces in an attempt to understand what a changed kick-off time does to an attendance. What percentage less attendance is seen for a 5.15 televised game compared to a standard 3pm KO across the whole league (excluding the big 4 perhaps)? An analysis of attendances of 1 o'clock, 3o'clock and 5:15 saturday, 11.30 and 4.05 sundays KO's together with trhe number of times each team has had each time might explain the differences. Compare all kick off times as percentages of the stadium, and as percentages of the standard 3o'clock kick-off. Factor in the "category" of the game too. If you did this for all the clubs in the league you might find that City, Newcastle and Bolton have had a distinct lack of 3pm kick times compared to other clubs of similar size. You can prove anything with stats!

At 7:16 pm, Anonymous Barney Daniels said...

Interesting to read Anons comments regarding statistics, he's quite righ However it still doesn't change the fact that thousands of seats are empty every week. Where's the feel good factor gone? Discover that and just maybe those thousands will return


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