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By Walter Broeckx
Looking back I can remember two big stories swirling around during last summer. One of course was Cesc, and his going. The other was that renewals of season tickets had collapsed and that the stadium would be fairly empty this year, with just Tony and Jane (who said straight away they were renewing) and the other lucky Untold readers who have season tickets.
But that would be it. The rest simply wouldn’t renew, and wouldn’t buy.
So the stadium would be half empty as the majority of fans disappeared like drops of snow in the Sahara.
We here on Untold thought this was totally ridiculous and when you look at the stadium it mostly is nicely filled and the chance to go to the stadium and buy a match ticket at the official Arsenal selling point are as high as finding that drop of snow in the dessert.
The move to the Emirates has been a big move for Arsenal. And a move I have supported all the way. But I have to admit a very personal interest in this change, for I thought it would be the way for myself and my friend finally to have the chance to buy tickets and to go and see home games. And it did work out that way for me.
Now building a new stadium and a big stadium costs money as we all know. And it is a big risk for a club and it takes a lot of money away from possible transfer funds for a few years. And most clubs who have built a new stadium in the not so distant past have paid a heavy price. Many of those clubs have gone down the league and have almost disappeared from of our view. If you look down the league tables you can find them but for some clubs you really have to look deep. Southampton is an obvious example.
But many clubs dream of doing an Arsenal, and building a new and bigger stadium is part of that dream. And of course one of the biggest questions when you build a new and bigger stadium is: can we fill it? Because it may look nice to do it but if you find afterwards an empty stadium with no fans in it you have wasted a lot of money.
Now we all know that the move has been a big success for Arsenal in attendances. As the average attendance in our last year at Highbury was 38.184 people per game it went to +60.000 since our move to the Emirates.
Now the average attendance does not give the full picture. If you have a capacity of 100.000 people and only 50.000 turn up you might have a big crowd, but your stadium is way too big. And it would be stupid to have such a big stadium if you can only half fill it.
So I think it is important to not just look at the average crowds in the stadiums but also take a look at the capacity. And see how a club can fill its ground.
And I have done some research and I have trusted the official Premier league site for this. So it the numbers are wrong you should blame the EPL for giving false information. For those who just don’t like to read much numbers you can skip the tables and just read some conclusions I made in between and at the end.
And the numbers I have found are telling me that Arsenal is the real people’s champion in the last 4 years, you know the years of failure of the worst period in our history and other blah, blah, blah. For this season we have so far:
If you look at this table for the current season you can see that Arsenal is the team that sells the highest percentage of available tickets in the EPL Closely followed by Man Utd and to my big surprise Fulham in third place. They have a small ground but they do tend to fill it up rather nicely this season and even with the fact that they are on the wrong side of the table doesn’t stop their fans from coming.
And even Stoke has a very solid fan base so it seems as they even beat Chelsea when it comes to filling their stadium. And at the bottom we find Wigan who really looks in trouble to fill their stadium. May I also point at the fact that our close neighbours and rivals Tottenham only manage to fill their stadium to around 90%. And this is really low if you compare this to other seasons.
Certainly if you compare this to last season in the next table:
Again Arsenal top the table but last season Tottenham came in second in filling the stadium just in front of ….Stoke and then only United. At the bottom the same familiar names.
For those who like more numbers, here you go…
And to round it up
So the bottom line is that Arsenal always have sold out + 99% of their tickets on average during the last 3 seasons and the current season. United who was topping this table in 07-08 has been dropping since and have lost almost one percent. We just lost a few people. Readers of some other blog I suppose.
Tottenham is very strange as they also had a high average attendance in the last season, even the second best last season behind Arsenal, and now this season it has dropped with 10%. I have checked the numbers again and again but this is what the official PL site has told me. Who am I to doubt them. So dreaming of a 50.000 stadium can look nice but if you cannot fill it, it is a big and costly gamble to take.
What also is a bit surprising, well it is to me, is the fact that Stoke is ending rather high when it comes to filling their smaller ground. Ever since they came to the EPL they have had a high percentage of around 97-98%. So there still is an audience for the old school kick them till they lay down-football. Or is the art of the long throw that makes football popular in those parts of the world. Or maybe there is really nothing else to do in Stoke on any day of the week? I’m not that familiar with live in Stoke so I cannot know why they have such a high percentage. I’m counting on you to inform me on this.
Manchester City is on the up coming from around 88% a few season ago to around 96% now. And Liverpool is going the other way. The “best fans in the world” only filled about 95% of their stadium a few seasons ago and this is dropping to around 91% this season. So also not looking that good on the need to build a new and bigger stadium.
I will leave it for now and leave it up to you to have a look at another team and see how it is filling their stadium. But I do know that the predictions on how empty the Emirates would be after all those “bad and miserable years” was based on nothing. Arsenal fans are the most loyal and trustful fans in the world and they prove it by coming to the Emirates for every game. But didn’t we already knew this?
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