Was the prediction of an empty Emirates correct?

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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:

Team Capacity 10/11 Avg %
Arsenal 60361 60046 99,48
Man Utd 75797 74928 98,85
Fulham 25478 24979 98,04
Stoke 27500 26853 97,65
Chelsea 42449 41437 97,62
Blackpool 16100 15617 97,00
Man City 47715 46260 96,95
Wolves 29303 26966 92,02
Liverpool 45522 41751 91,72
WBA 26500 23940 90,34
Tottenham 36230 32515 89,75
Everton 40157 35967 89,57
Newcastle 52339 46544 88,93
Aston Villa 43786 37617 85,91
West Ham 35303 30313 85,87
Birmingham 30079 25009 83,14
Bolton 27879 22676 81,34
Sunderland 49000 38565 78,70
Blackburn 31367 23837 75,99
Wigan 25133 15761 62,71

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:

Team Capacity 09/10 Avg %
Arsenal 60361 59927 99,28
Tottenham 36230 35794 98,80
Stoke 27500 27162 98,77
Man Utd 75797 74864 98,77
Chelsea 42449 41423 97,58
Wolves 29303 28366 96,80
West Ham 35303 33683 95,41
Man City 47715 45513 95,39
Liverpool 45522 42864 94,16
Fulham 25478 23909 93,84
Everton 40157 36725 91,45
Aston Villa 43786 38573 88,09
Birmingham 30079 25246 83,93
Sunderland 49000 40355 82,36
Blackburn 31367 25428 81,07
Bolton 27879 21881 78,49
Wigan 25133 17998 71,61

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…

Team Capacity 08/09 Avg %
Arsenal 60361 60040 99,47
Man Utd 75797 75304 99,35
Tottenham 36230 35929 99,17
Stoke 27500 26954 98,01
Chelsea 42449 41484 97,73
WBA 26500 25828 97,46
Liverpool 45522 43611 95,80
Fulham 25478 24340 95,53
West Ham 35303 33700 95,46
Newcastle 52339 48750 93,14
Aston Villa 43786 39812 90,92
Man City 47715 42900 89,91
Everton 40157 35667 88,82
Sunderland 49000 40168 81,98
Bolton 27879 22486 80,66
Blackburn 31367 23479 74,85
Wigan 25133 18350 73,01

And to round it up

Team Capacity 07/08 Avg %
Man Utd 75797 75691 99,86
Arsenal 60361 60070 99,52
Tottenham 36230 35967 99,27
Newcastle 52339 51321 98,05
West Ham 35303 34601 98,01
Chelsea 42449 41397 97,52
Liverpool 45522 43532 95,63
Fulham 25478 23774 93,31
Aston Villa 43786 40372 92,20
Sunderland 49000 43344 88,46
Man City 47715 42126 88,29
Everton 40157 34985 87,12
Birmingham 30079 26181 87,04
Blackburn 31367 23916 76,25
Wigan 25133 19046 75,78
Bolton 27879 20901 74,97

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?

Want to read some more things you already know?  Try this

We’ve found another relative of Jack Humble – the club’s founder.

Making the Arsenal – is now available post free.

38 Replies to “Was the prediction of an empty Emirates correct?”

  1. Walter, I guess the figures are Prem League matches only, given the source, and I think that gives us a clue as to what is happening.

    I have long thought (since I found out how Tottenham manipulate their membership and waiting list figures) that Tottenham does not have a huge fan base. What I think is happening is that some fans who would have gone to league matches have opted out a bit, and instead gone for the absolute utter novelty of watching the club in the Champs League.

    Chelsea have sold out league matches because the club has done well in the last few years, but some of the crowds they have got for Champ League matches against lesser teams have been poor (we’ve sold out all the way through).

    Liverpool for their match on 1 January got a crowd of 35,400 – their lowest for quite a few years.

    The fact is the clubs need to maintain their sell out notices even when playing weaker opposition, and when they are not playing well. And not many do this.

  2. I bought my dog in Stoke – a whippet… they do great whippets in the potteries but the impression I got of Stoke, as I drove through it, was that it was a proper shit-hole.

    They have always had a massive support from their fans who are, in my experience, as thuggish as the brand of football they they screech at in admiration.

  3. Congratulations Walter on some revealing research. I think what you need to add is what filling a large capacity ground brings to the club and that is money. Or to put it another way, it is the only way a big club can achieve self sufficiency in the modern age. (And not be beholden to the unneeded cash of vanity driven billionaires) And it is why Arsenal’s match day income is second (by a mere few million) only to Manure in the world. So Roman Abrahmovitch’s grandiose vision of self-sufficiency for Chelski is doomed unless they invest in a ground instead of aged superstar has-beens. It is also why the Tinies want to build an Emirates replica in N17 but are unlikely to be able to finance it until Jo Lewis sells them to an unsuspecting Oligarch. The excellent site Swiss Ramble makes all these points more eloquently than I can.
    Keep up the good work – your site is easily one of the most interesting – and I completely agree with your editorial policy and its support of the direction our club has taken.

  4. Yes these are only PL numbers so it could be right what you are thinking Tony about Tottenham. Maybe they would/could come back if they are no longer in the CL? But I found it strange as one can only say that they had a rather good season so far in the PL.
    And 10.000 less than their capacity is poor for Liverpool. That is just filling it to 77%.

    And I do have the impression that at Old Trafford where you saw no empty seats in the seasons before there are more and more gaps showing in the stands. I had seen it before but now when I see the numbers they confirm this a bit. But they do have around 15.000 people more than us for each game which represents a lot of money.

  5. Walter, in an article I’ve just written there is a comment related to this, to do with season tickets being renewed in significant numbers, far earlier than the club expected.

    Makes the AAA comments laughable

  6. Part of the problem that many clubs seem to have is a lack of flexibility when it comes to visiting clubs not taking up their full allocation which is 5% of capacity for PL games. Even last night it was eveident that Man City only took up maybe two thirds of the seats provided to them. Arsenal can reorganise however and looked as though they had easily sold the ‘spare’ 1000 seats and, because of the design of that part of the gtound, can easily segregate. Other clubs can’t do this.
    On the other side of the coin it was noted by Aresenal themselves that 4000 of the 24000 at the recent game at Birmingham were Arsenal fans – around three times what our allocation ‘legally’ has to be. But they had to give us the whole of one end as happens at the likes of Fulham.
    Having a huge membership list, high season ticket take up and a system whereby the latter can pass on are huge advantages to Arsenal and they don’t exist to anything like the same extent elsewhere.
    The last time Chel;sea made anything like an official statement on the subject they seemed to have given up on a new stadium or the expansion of Stamford Bridge – hence the drmatic cost cutting going on there. As for Spurs, as is evidenced by the Beckham nonsense, everything they do is window dressing to attract a buyer. Surely no one could be that daft? They can’t be in a new stadium for about three years during which time a large proportion of their squad (and maybe their manager) will need to be replaced. Double jeapardy!

  7. Question to Walter. Do you consider that, with hindsight and with all the available statistics, if Arsenal were building again, they would increase the capacity of the Emirates?

  8. Perhaps the Spuds put up their ticket prices after their relative success last season?

  9. Nicky this is a tricky one.
    Would Arsenal be able to fill let us say a 75.000 stadium? I think it would need a whole lot of examening to find out if this could be done. At the time this was certainly something that could not be done. It was almost doubling Highbury.
    Another question that one should raise is if the cost of building that extra capacity could be matched with the extra income? Because if those 15.000 don’t come to the stadium you have spend a lot of money for nothing.

    I think it would have made a lot of people on the waiting list happy and it would make it easier to buy tickets for single games. But would it fill like now? I really don’t know.

  10. I’d imagine they decided that 60k seats was a safe bet, any more and we would’ve been taking more of a gamble and the debt would’ve weighed heavier during construction.

    Totally by coincidence, I’ve written up an article on the financing of the Emirates. Great timing Walter!

  11. The planning restrictions related to height of the stadium and transport links plus a design that allows the elements to get good access to the pitch keeps the capacity down to 60000. It is also the case that the view taken at Board level (and publically expressed by Ken Friar) is that if it’s too easy to get tickets for a fair number of games each season then season ticket sales fall. Better to have pent-up demand that keeps the stadium full (at the worlds highest prices) than empty spaces and the need to reduce prices to fill them.
    The evidence from Man Utd who have regularly pushed up prices recently (having fallen way behind Arsenals) on the back of repeated success demonstrates this. For the first time this season they have not sold out their season tickets and struggle to sell out matches that are not included in the season ticket.
    Of course, being in London is a massive asvantage.

  12. @Walter

    I believe that 60,000 capacity came about because the transport infrastructure couldn’t handle bigger crowds travelling to the Emirates. So it’s been limited by that rather than a lack of fans to fill a larger capacity.

    I also believe the stadium was built with expansion in mind, but we would not be allowed to do so by the council until the club has made some investment towards the transport links necessary to support such an increase in numbers.

    PS. Great article, but if I could make a suggestion it would be excellent to see a graph of all the tables. We could then clearly see which clubs’ percentages have gone up or down over the last few years. 🙂

  13. I had been thinking about adding graphics about that Wrenny but I thought the article with the boring numbers was already long enough. Maybe I should make a follow up and present it like that for the clubs that have been in the EPL the last years.
    I keep that in mind.

  14. And thanks for adding the reason behind the 60.000 capacity. I really didn’t know that. But I can understand it a bit as when you see the enormous amount of people waiting a long time before being able to get on the underground it was a reasonable maximum limit. Otherwise you could create dangerous situations.

    Maybe after the heritage of the Arsenal station Arsenal could be thinking about making an Arsenal Line. Please in red and white on the underground map. 😉
    and if possible a line with starting place in Brussels if I may ask so. Okay maybe this is a bit to much asked. 🙂

  15. I find the boring numbers are what makes Untold such a great site, so I welcome all the stats you throw at us. You can’t find this kind of statistical analysis anywhere else in the blogosphere apart from SwissRamble.

    Coming back to the article, the Spurs numbers are shocking! Their best season in years and year and the crowds are down 10%? It’s truly astonishing. Tony’s theory about the novelty of CL football leading some fans away from league games is probably spot-on. But it still reduces the financial benefits of having CL football in the first place.

  16. The theory of CL football leading to lower attendances at EPL games is a valid one. I can recall 70 years ago, as one of a number of refugees from German Occupation, being billeted in Oldham, and being generously granted free seats at the Town’s football ground. Never having watched professional soccer before, we looked forward to every game. However, the novelty began to wear off and it wasn’t long before many of us began to choose the matches, dependent on the quality of the opposition. It’s homan nature, I suppose.

  17. There is one complication with the 60,000 capacity, I believe. In the original plan, Arsenal were going to invest a substantial sum in redeveloping Holloway Road underground – and Transport for London would pay the rest.

    Holloway Road (not Arsenal) is the nearest ground to the stadium (by a matter of a few yards) but the exits are awful – it has a steep winding staircase, and lifts, no escalators.

    But during the proceedings, TFL decided they didn’t want to upgrade the station, and would use their money elsewhere, so the upgrade was never done. As a result Holloway Rd is shut to northbound trains before a match and (I think) all access after the game.

    To increase the number over 60,000 this extra station needs to be added to the existing stations (Finsbury Park, Arsenal and Highbury and Islington), and TfL would need to run extra Picadilly Line trains.

    All of which has always made me wonder about the new Tottenham stadium. That stadium is very poorly served by public transport, and I am surprised that the authorities agreed to have a 55000 seater stadium there.

    Unless of course that approval is given pending Tottenham paying for the sort of upgrades Arsenal paid for. If that is the case it is not surprising that Tottenham want the Stratford stadium instead.

    (Footnote: the above is written from memory, and there could be slips in my memory – we have been at the stadium a few years now).

  18. Great article Walter.

    There is one thing that you state that I don’t think is right. That is that other clubs that have built big stadiums have fallen away.

    I can’t think of any other clubs that have built stadiums the size of The Emirates for quite a while.
    Old Trafford & St James Park have reached their current capacities through upgrading the existing stadiums. The rest are nowhere near as big as The Emirates.

    This leaves me torn between wanting Tottenham to move to Sratford so that I can give them some stick back about moving from one part of London to another or building a bigger stadium next to the existing one and laughing at them when they get 35000 crowds in a 55000 stadium.

    I find it remarkable that Arsenal continue to pull in 60000 per game and the one man that should take credit for that is Arsene Wenger.

  19. I believe the Spurs attendance is an error on the Premier League website.

    For some reason, see the Spurs website, they didn’t release an official attendance for their home game against Everton in October, and the Premier League website has taken it as zero.

    Press at the time gave it as 35,967. Assuming correct, this gives them an average of 35,784 (393,629 / 11) rather than 32,515 ((393,629 – 35,967)/11)

  20. Tony

    Haringey are desperate for Tottenham to stay as they want them to part-fund the re-generation of Tottenham High Road. Although in the current economic climate I can’t see the council coughing up any cash to upgrade anything themselves.

    Whenever a big club mentions a new stadium these days, the first thing the local council says is “what is the value add for the locale?”

  21. “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? ”

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

  22. anyone who has been to stoke would know it is a run down place there is nothing but yobs up there and the people are pretty poor some parts of stoke remind me of a third world country.

    how is spurs going to build a 50000 seater if they cant fill what they have now.

    my fear with arsenal is that as soon as the debt is more or less repaid I think they may start building a bigger capacity?

    as for man u how much doodo would they be in if attendances dropped by say 5% or 10% on average combine that with the vat rise to 20% this may hit clubs hard.

    surely it is clear to see arsenal sell out because of the attractive football they play, your almost guaranteed goals at the ems. I mean who is going to pay with time and money spent to go and watch two negative teams hoof the ball around for 82 mins with a further 8 mins + stoppage time for towel wiping and this is the same reason sky rarely RARELY ever show two of these teams up against each other because football is an entertainment business

  23. Tony – did you know that the staircase was initially part of a whacky design spiral esculator/lift majooberry mcthing-a-mejig that never worked.

    There is also another lift shaft/exit that was built and never used (due to the lift faliure).

    At least that was the rumour when I lived there… I reckon a tunnel to the stadium would be just lovely if TFL could meet us ‘half way’ so to speak.

  24. Richard thank you for this. This could be the reason. I think I will work on it in a way that I could make some graphics of it and then I will change the data.

  25. The reason behind Arsenal now owning large plots of land around Holloway Road tube is exactly for the purpose of building better access to and egress from the station – possibly even at platform level. I think a tunnel under the road to give direct access to the stadium was very much part of it. I believe that the club are now deciding on what they are going to do wuth that land and buildings.
    As far as Tottenham are concerned I cannot see how 55000 people can be allowed to spill out onto the Tottenham High Rd (the only real direction to go) after a game. The road would need to be shut for an hour after the game and I just can’t see that happening.
    There is only one sensible financial solution to their quandry and that is for Spurs and WHU to ground share at Stratford. My guess is that it will be suggested by the authorities and it’s a case of which club refuses first.

  26. Great article.
    I would like to know (might be impossible to find out) if those average 315 empty seats are due away team not selling out and Arsenal could not sell them (seats being in middle of away fans or finding out too late).
    I remember hearing from somewhere that Wenger or someone else explain that they could build bigger stadium but they wanted to make sure that you could see the match from every seat instead of being a mile away (my first football match was Real Mad stadium and I did see nothing when match ended I knew opposite team had got red card and Real Mad had won and that is all… about 10 years later when i started to watch football I decided I’ll spend more to actually see something).

  27. Stoke is basically a run down, low rent Beiruit, but less friendly. They are transfixed by their football so much as white dog poo is hard to come by these days. I know, I work there.

  28. Great article Walter! Maybe you could really do a follow up, where you would talk about the ticket prices. Compering prices, and maybe usage level and possible threat of vat rise as Gooner80 suggested? The statistics for ManU seem quite impressive, 1t’s 15000 more than we have. I would be also very interested hearing what are the future plans for the Emirates. Are there any statistics about how much money per additional 1000 seats would generate compering to the daily running costs/game?

  29. So @ Casual Observer: you were a Holloway Boy? Me too! Anyway, the trouble with Holloway Road is that it is one of the deepest on the Northern Line and it has a narrow “bore” meaning that it would be cost prohibitive to “open” the space for escalators to be viable. You don’t use lifts with the sort of crowds we have on matchdays. That pretty much rules out Holloway Road as an option. But I remember talk of upgrading Drayton Park at one stage…@ Casual Observer: do you know if anything was ever done? The EM though is in the perfect site..plenty of transport options….and I am so envious because before I left England I lived in Cheverton Road in Hornsey and worked at the Sobell Sports Centre – So that would just be a hop-skip-and -a Jump from work or a nice little jog down the Hornsey Road when I wasn’t working…ah well memories (0;

  30. @GT
    Holloway “Northern Line”??? You must have left a long time ago :o) As a Stroud Green boy the last time I went through it it was very much the Piccadilly.

  31. Hi Walter,
    have done some graphics but how can I send them – .png file perhaps?
    For stadia fill you would have to factor in, amongst others:
    1. capacity. Blackpool can fill a 16 000 stadium at 99% but might struggle filling the Reebok?
    2. catchment area size. if you are in the London area with extensive transport systems you’ve got a big potential to divvy out between 5 PL teams, not to mention Eurostar season ticket holders such as yourself. catchment area wealth would be in here too but given transport these days, car ownership etc. this may be slightly less important.
    4. pricing. football is one of those businesses’ like selling cigarettes where demand is far from rational but you can’t steal a seat at PL game (well you can but you wont be counted).
    5. local support for the away team. Again London probably has living in it sizeable blocks of support for most PL teams hence ensuring all matches are fully watched. Whereas in the North-East this will be less the case and frankly you must have done something particularly bad to end up in Stoke if you didn’t start there. (joke). Man Utd may even have some Manchester based support (more analysis needed here maybe?).
    6. recent, and/or expected, success: Man Utd obviously but Fulham with bigger support (increased season tickets after Uefa run?) Man City up (who or what will the Sheiks buy next? – because it can’t be the football ;-)).
    6. football tradition: N’castle and Sunderland fill big stadiums despite geographical isolation, economic stress – Walter think Wallonie, in fact may geordies spend so much of their disposable income on tickets that they can’t afford shirts – disgraceful ownership for N’castle and a long time since the ’73 cup final for ex-Rokerites, and I won’t mention the climate. Compared to Wigan where a large part of the population still can’t get their head round the shape of the ball.
    .. I’ll stop there.

    So what do the graphics show? line graphs so that shows up trends. Split into regions: south, ie cockneys , ie yourselves, midlands, Stoke thrown in here but really they are neither here nor in the north, north-west and north-east.
    a few swift tales told by the graphs.
    1. south: stadia fill highest. prior to this season Fulham were lowest at 94%. Both Spurs and West Ham have dropped 10% this season but Fulham have gone up above chelsea.
    2. Midlands: All teams heading down, with an average 5-6% fall since season 07/08. This area has the most relegations/promotions in the study. you would expect stadia fill to drop in relegation yeasr and be higher in promotion years. interesting point here is that teams that have done the “ascenseur” (lift for those of you not on speaking terms with Arsène) are no getting smaller crowd on their return to the PL than when they went down (reduced expectations? the fact that the study covers the time of our most recent economic meltdown?)
    3. nort-west: splits into two camps, succesful traditional clubs in big cities M’cer and L’pool. Always above 90% fill, ging up for citeh and everton, down noticeably for L’pool, slightly for Manu.
    4. north-east. biggest, most consistent and inexorable? slide both losing 10% since 07/08.

    Finally to regive this the Arsenal flavour. why are the Gunners tops?
    catchment area both size and wealth, tradition, success (makes me laugh when people harp on about Arsenal’s lack of success) and most importantly they play the best football by a very large country mile, entertain and … over to you Cesc et al

    if you’ve made it this far, congratulations.

  32. I sometimes dont get hpw they announce 60,000 fans in the stadium when most of the seats r empty

  33. Walter the first thing to say is that Arsenal are slightly naughty in how they calculate attendance in that all season ticket holders are automatically counted whether or not they turn up. Which means it’s pretty impossible to announce a crowd of less than 50,000, even if the ground were 90% empty, which of course it isn’t.

    The second thing they really rather like to do is to have 60,000 in. This is clearly impossible if they can’t sell the away allocation (happens occasionally with Eastern European opponents), so they are scrupulous in not doing so on those occasions.

    I can say with a degree of confidence that attendances are usually 55 – 58,000 with the big games pretty close to the 60,000 attending. I’m sure that the Ticket Exchange helps in that it allows Season Ticket holders to ease the pressure of going to each game by getting a rebate on next year if they sell the ticket to someone else for that match. But it’s not working totally perfectly yet.

    It’s also clear that Arsenal is becoming a bit of a tourist gig, in that there are clearly significant numbers of foreign visitors obviously on a short-break to London with an Arsenal match thrown in as part of the package. Again, I think that’s a good thing in moderation.

    The next thing you need to remember Walter is that, for some reason, Arsenal fans are less influential in the media than those of other clubs, which is the motivation for the constant ‘Arsenal are going bust’ stories over the period 2005 – 2010. The only other reason for that would be Arsene Wenger wanting to plead poverty in the transfer market. Anyone who could analyse the financial statements knew the stories were bullshit, but most fans neither do that nor wish to. The debt was covered by property assets, so Arsenal’s net assets rose steadily through that period. To put it mildly, those journalists who wrote those stories would have lost any FSA accreditation they might have had due to serious financial misrepresentation……….as I’m sure they didn’t have any in the first place, you can see why any sane person wouldn’t take too much notice of the stories anyway……

  34. This blog absolutely ROCKS. For the thinking Arsenal fan there’s no blog quite like Untold Arsenal. This Blog, ACLF and a few others have been like shining diamonds in the general dung heap of Arsenal blogging.

    How weird is it that all the energy appears to have been sucked out of a blog like Le Grove now that the team are doing well? All those posts that defamed the manager, poured scorn on the players, mocked Pat Rice (a great servant of the club for whom the morons that run that site have no respect) and slagged off our board have all been replaced with the most insipid, soulless, joyless and inane rubbish…. in other words NOTHING.

    Wasn’t it Geoff at Le Grove pushing the myth about fans deserting the stadium? Wasn’t he the one who said even very recently that Arsenal were lying about attendances?? May be he should read Walter’s post… then again it is probably too much to expect such a dimwit to understand the facts and figures presented with such brilliant clarity.

    I know that a lot of folks adopt the attitude of ignoring the misinformed and often mendacious rubbish that comes out of websites like Le Grove and others but as someone recently put it… some of these sites are like intellectual cesspits. It really is a good idea to remind ourselves of what these people were saying just a few short weeks ago… before the Chelsea game the “Goon Blog” wrote a piece of nonsense about Wenger being on his last legs if we didn’t win against Chelsea… We were second in the league and this idiot was writing a blog post advocating the sacking of the manager! Fools.

    All these AAA morons who were comparing us so unfavorably with Chelsea are now silent now that Chelsea has gone into melt down. All those know-it-all blogs who were telling us that Wenger was fool for not persisting with his aging invincibles now have Chelsea’s example of what can happen when a team is allowed to age without the injection of new, younger blood. But does anyone really expect these fools to learn from what they are witnessing? Like Heck…

  35. With all due respect Rhys… your point is besides the point TBF. If the club sells a ticket and the buyer for whatever reason doesn’t turn up why should the club announce a lower figure since the seat was paid for?… And it is not the club that decides how attendances should be calculated but the Premier league itself. If you are suggesting that our attendances are lower than those of our rivals… how do you know? All club attendances are based on tickets sold and ultimately that is all that matters. But, hey if you have any evidence to back up your suggestion that our percentage attendance has fallen in the last 4 years can we please have that evidence?

    In any event wasn’t the AAA mantra that season ticket renewals would be down because of the way the club is run? Now you tell us that the club counts seasons tickets to get their attendance figures when according to the AAA those very season tickets you say are counted shouldn’t be available for the club to count anyway!

    Walter’s figures make absolute sense…

  36. Walter, I read that the majority of the spectators in any stadium are not die hard fans, but either more casual fans or just people who want to watch football.

    That explains why the “where were you when you were shit” chant exists. The casual fans go to wherever the football is best.

    And the quality of the stadium seems to matter even more than the quality of football. The better the stadium, the higher the attendances.

    That partly explains why Stoke, while playing a horrible, violent brand of football, still manage to fill their stadium.

    Arsenal are one of the top clubs in Europe, and we have a brand new state of the art stadium.
    So let’s say that even if Le Grub is right, and that a lot of our loyal life-long supporters are jumping ship, we’ll still easily maintain a very high attendance at the Emirates. There just aren’t enough of us die hard fans to make that much of an impact.

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