There’s no disputing that attendance stats have raised The72’s profile – you all love them, and that’s great.
However, I can’t help but notice the call for full attendance figures. Whilst I’m hoping to keep them updated, it may not be weekly. To keep us in focus, I want to start off the full attendance stats with an insight into the development of attendance, the growth and decline, and the 5 factors that contribute to great attendance. I’ll focus this insight as a how-to guide for attendance growth – some are blindingly obvious, but behind them is stats and facts, so bear with me for the juicy bits.
*Tip – Scroll to the bottom to view the FULL HOME ATTENDANCE STATS and the associated growth and decline stats*
1. Get into a higher league
It is obvious, but there are surprises hidden in this basic rule. First of all in this graphic, we have the last 5 years full attendance figures from all teams currently in the Championship (regardless whether they were in League One or Premier League before). In red are teams that were relegated from the Premier League, for which the figures show their first year back in the Championship. In green are the teams that were promoted into the championship, for which the figures are showing their first year returning. Any numbers in grey are attendance statistics set whilst playing in the Premier League.
The colours: how are these important? Many many colours in this little sheet, but very important for a few reasons. By colour coding, we can see the different moving up or down a league makes in relation to their last year. It also allows us to average them out, so we can see how much of an impact moving a league can make. It also allows us to look closer … read on.
It’s no surprise that moving up a league from little ol’ League One into the big mean Championship can attract more fans – new supporters, long lost supporters, ‘glory’ supporters. Never the less, freshly promoted teams took a combined average of 3425 fans more the next season after being promoted from 10/10 of the clubs promoted between 2009 and 2013.
However, this could be scewed by another factor – Brighton moved into their new stadium, the AMEX / Falmer Stadium in the same year. We’ll talk about new stadiums later, but withdrawing this result as an anomaly, this gives us a new average of 2005 new fans per club after promotion.
In the same vein as we took the new-found support of promoted clubs, relegated clubs have the opposite, but very much expected, fate. Of the 9 teams that have been relegated and are still alive-and-kicking in the Championship, every one of them saw a significant drop in attendance. The average drop in attendance was 4541 for clubs leaving the Premier League and joining the Championship. Whilst we all like to support the winners, and sometimes struggle to keep the faith when times are hard, this accounts for a significant proportion of the fans.
Taking a look at Blackburn Rovers in the 2011/12 season, they lost a staggering 34% of their fans, and still haven’t regained from their record numbers when in the Premier League.
Looking at Queens Park Rangers, it would seem that their rise to the high-life a few years ago was met with lasting support, as over the past 3 years, attendance has wavered as much as a row of seats.
Premier League vs Championship
It’s never been a secret that any Premier League team attracts more followers than a Championship team. The average of all of these teams playing in the top flight is 21332 fans. However, the same clubs playing Championship have an average of 15714 supporters per game. That’s a massive 26% loss. When you also consider that tickets are on the whole cheaper in the Championship (2011-12 survey showed cheapest Premier League ticket were £28, compared with £20 Championship), a fair prediction would be that dropping down a league, losing fans and tickets fees, clubs are 52% worse off on the doors. That’s the time clubs need their loyal supporters. Shame on those who abandon their struggling side!
2. ‘Build it and they will come’
Brighton and Hove Albion opened their new 30750 seater stadium at the start of the 2011/12 season, the same season as they starting playing in the Championship after being promoted. Whilst previously taking 7624 to their old 8850 stadium (that’s a 86% capacity) they begun to take 21829 on average almost overnight. Their lowest attendance of the season was recorded in mid-August, with 16295 fans against Gillingham – up nearly 9000, but only filling 53% of the stadium. Up to an average of 21829 for the season, filling 71% of the AMEX.
Looking over the entire 6 years from 2008 to a couple of days ago (early November 2013), their attendance is up 305% – this gives them the top attendance in the whole of the Championship combined with top growth rate of any club. They are a couple of thousand fans down on last year up to now this season, but that should be set to change with more games bringing more home fans over the season.
An undeniable factor in the growth of Brighton and Hove Albion.
3. Location, Location, Location
Now it can’t be helped – even those far-out and wide abreast can play football. And if that means people have to trek a few hundred miles, so be it. Just don’t expect a decent attendance.
The top 5 furthest teams to travel to, on average, from any club, are these:
It’s not all doom and gloom if Brighton can still drag a crowd in. However, with a larger area to drag from, and only stone’s-throw from the London clubs, alone with the new stadium, there are reasons it’s popular. For poor little Yeovil however, as the newcomers to the Championship too, tucked away in the far South-West of the country, it’s a neigh-on pilgrimage to attend an away-day. For the few that do live there, 7500 attending would be like 19% of the town’s population turning up at the stands on a Saturday afternoon.
It really can’t be helped, unless you play it clever. I think Brighton have fallen on some good luck and good planning. Their attendance really is a testament to so many factors.
4. Planning for Relegation
No-one wants it to happen. But when it does, make sure your fans are happy, and you put on a brave face. I think this must have been the team-talk in the Blackpool changing rooms for a good while. Previously only taking 8000 on the turnstiles when in the Championship in 2009/10, this almost double as they were slingshot into the limelight of the Premier League. For their one season, fans were loving it. However, with the British backing an underdog, their return to the Championship was still met with fan support, with a maintained increase of 50% attendance compared to their last stint in the league. Last season, they managed to add a few thousand to that, and are doing the same this year. They are almost taking the same number as tickets as when in the Premier League!
Whilst others like Birmingham maintained their attendance for 1 year, the season(s) after tend to slip back into the old routine of an empty stadium. The same can be seen for Derby who fell from 29,000 to 22,000 in the space of 6 years and some dismal results.
No other team have done it the way Blackpool have, and hopefully continue to do. It’s an organic growth and takes love, time and affection. But it’s very possibly with the right handling of a bad situation.
Happy fans, a well paid Press Officer, and players willing to give a good performance – that’s what it’s about to maintain success when met with adversity.
5. TV Games – Live on Sky
This was an area I was struggling to decide on pre-stats. Could it be that people see it’s on TV and think, ‘I can watch from home‘, or go to the games, relishing the chance seeing their team live whilst others are watching on their box? Derbys are televised as games of interest so maybe pack a few more in than otherwise.
The average attendance for televised games this season is 18146. With the entire average attendance for 2013/14 currently standing at 16132, it would seem on first glance that it really does make a difference. Until …
Brighton, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday have a bigger average with 0 televised games.
Derby’s televised game was their lowest attendance this season.
Leeds two televised games didn’t produce their largest turnstile stats this season.
Forest/Derby did produce their largest, but it only round the corner; a meer 15 miles.
So what can we take from this? Producers must like derby’s and teams playing within close-proximity – they know attendance will be great no matter. Do the stats support the idea that TV games have a better attendance? No.
If you’re this far down, you’ve waited long enough for the stats:
This is the analytical part of the sheet – good for comparing growth, changes, and all sorts of stats for yourself. Scroll once again for the away-attendance-themed stats.
HOME ATTENDANCE FIGURES!
This is what so many people have been requesting! The ‘green’ highlighted games are games shown LIVE on tv, related to point 5 of the how to get popular list!
Just to be clear, in the CURRENT AVERAGE column, the green are teams newly promoted into the Championship; the reds are newly relegated into the Championship. Growth rank is based over 5 years + this season.
I won’t even pretend these will be updated weekly, but I’ll do my best to keep it fairly current.
Got more ideas? Tweet me on @JoeComins to discuss more angles and more stats and factors you’d like to see.