Football attendances. Arsenal in Europe: who can fill their ground

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By Walter Broeckx

So finally we are in part 3 of our series on football crowds in Europe. Part one was about the capacity of the biggest grounds in Europe . And in part two we have seen which team gets the most supporters in their stadium. And in that article  there were some surprises as not the usual suspects turned out on top.

In this article we will make the link between those two articles. The link between capacity and the actual number of people buying tickets.

So again I took the same years as in the last article but this time I calculated how many seats were sold in the stadiums. I gave a number for each year and then I calculated the average of those 4 years and made a ranking of it.

The more seats you sell of your capacity, the better it is. And the higher your ranking will be. Again I took the average of 4 season to make up the final ranking. And the table is going from the highest % tickets sold to the lowest.

And again you will find that some things are not what they seem at times. Just look at this and wonder:

Club Cap rank capacity % 06/07 % 07/08 % 08/09 % 09/10 % 4 Seasons
Schalke 04 6 61482 99,78 99,66 99,80 99,75 99,75



60355 99,49 99,53 99,48 99,29 99,45
Manchester United 2 75957 99,83 99,65 99,14 98,56 99,29
Bayern Munich 5 69901 98,21 98,71 98,21 98,71 98,46
Hamburger SV 11 57274 97,54 96,67 95,58 87,38 94,29
Rangers 15 52063 95,95 94,39 95,14 91,36 94,21
Newcastle United 18 52387 96,75 97,97 93,06 82,90 92,67


52960 91,79 92,76 92,55 92,02 92,28
Real Madrid 3 80354 89,01 94,87 89,54 93,24 91,67
Borussia Dortmund 4 81264 89,58 89,23 89,95 95,06 90,95
Eintracht Frankfurt 20 52300 91,06 92,40 89,89 90,26 90,90
1. FC Köln 16 50374 83,18 86,83 97,89 95,40 90,83
Celtic 9 60832 95,23 93,17 93,81 74,93 89,28
Olympique de Marseille 12 60031 85,96 87,62 87,25 87,25 87,02
VfB Stuttgart



81,88 90,25 91,85 73,47 84,36
Borussia Mönchengladbach 19 54067 87,83 74,77 87,62 85,84 84,02
FC Barcelona 1 99354 74,56 68,00 71,79 78,60 73,24
Internazionale 8 80065 60,31 63,96 74,96 70,19 67,35
Hertha BSC 14 74228 65,61 61,21 66,95 62,89 64,17
AC Milan 10 80065 58,85 70,75 68,93 53,47 63,00

The club that is doing the best possible job on selling tickets is the German club Schalke 04. For this table they could change their name in Schalke 01.

Schalke has been a very popular club in Germany but in fact it has been a while since they really have won anything worth mentioning. But yet they keep on filling their stadium as if it was nothing. I wonder if it has anything to do with the name of the stadium? And the fact that the sponsor is a brewery? Are they coming for the beer or for the football?

Well anyway I have seen the large barrels that the brewery has installed in the Veltins Arena and they do looked impressive.

But look who is in second place as it is Arsenal. So when it comes to selling tickets we are the second best club in Europe. Maybe we could change the name of the Emirates in the future and maybe some brewery can give us that extra push to get to 100%?  Anyway I think it is great to see that we manage to sell our tickets very well. And also it looks like having a stadium of around 60.000 is the best capacity to sell most of your tickets. As both the stadiums of Schalke and the Emirates are around the same capacity.

And it sure looks good to beat Manchester United on this who are in third place. And then again we have two German teams flying high in the this table.

Something more surprising is the fact that when it comes to selling tickets Real Madrid only comes in 9th place! In fact it means that for an average league match in Spain they cannot sell 10% of their tickets. And that with all those stars at display.

And also an even bigger surprise is that Barcelona despite all the success in the last years they still have massive unsold tickets for many games. On average more than 1 ticket in 4 is not sold!

Now most of us do only get to see the big games they play in and then the stadium is mostly sold out but I think when teams like Levante come over you will see big gaps in the stadium. But most of the time they are more situated in the higher tiers of the stadium and not visible when you see it on TV. As you then only get to see the first tier and half of the second tier. And the higher you sit in Nou Camp the less you can see.

And something that also comes a bit of a surprise is the fact that both Inter and AC Milan have troubles in selling tickets. They can only get an average of below 70% in their stadium. And as I have seen a game from Inter this weekend on TV I saw very, very big gaps in the stadium. Now it could be that the combined managerial forces of Mourinho, Mancini and Ancelotti have driven even the most die hard fans out of the stadium. And that in a country where they do like a bit of catenaccio. Even that must have been too hard to swallow for the average Italian football fan.

But for those big clubs like the Spanish ones and the Italians it means that having a big stadium might be nice when you have a top game but when you are playing a lower placed team your stadium has big gaps which only cost you money. Or better said: do not make money in every game.

A final conclusion could be that filling a stadium is not always easy. You can do it by winning things but even that doesn’t guarantee you anything when you look at Barcelona.

Or you can do it by playing attractive football and try to win something in the same time. A bit the way Arsenal and Schalke are doing it. And when you look at the tickets sold, it isn’t a bad way of doing things.

Editorial note: That concludes Walter’s series on football stadia.  I’d particularly like to thank Walter for taking Untold into a different area, and for all the research and stats presented.  Indeed so taken have I been by this (and not being one to miss the chance to jump on someone else’s bandwagon) there will now be a follow up piece on Stratford Hotspur’s new ground in East London.   That will appear in a day or two.   Tony

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15 Replies to “Football attendances. Arsenal in Europe: who can fill their ground”

  1. Tell you what Walter, there are some amazing drops over those last two years.

    AC Milan down 68% to 53% (probably because the owner has said that’s it, no more funding).

    Stuggart: 91% down to 73%

    Celtic: 93% down to 75% – is that because they came in second, and the fans now demand a victory every year??? If so that is a warning about the malign influence of the AAA – if their view catches on that we should win something all the time, then the crowd will fall because no one can always win.

    Newcastle 93% to 82% – ok it was second division that year, but it was hugely successful on the pitch.

    This is really interesting given the way Tottenham are presenting their pitch for the Stratford stadium, where they are virtually saying they guarantee to fill it all the time because their long term success is assured.

    There’s so much more I want to know (and can you hop in a time machine and get the figures for the end of this season? I want to know now!

  2. Sam, are you for real? Why would a stadium be full just because tickets are cheap? People will and do pay for quality.

  3. Hi Walter an eye opener really/ considering the prices we charge for matchday aint exactly cheap we seem to still fill up the stadium. Anywhere we can discuss the westham match thread? Dont want to ramble on about that on this post

  4. And if I find the time I will be working on a comparison on how mutch it actually cost to see games in those stadiums. So despite Tony telling this was the last part, their could (will be) another article on this.
    But still working on this.

  5. Could you factor in the population of the city and number of clubs in same city?
    That would be quite interesting and would probably propel Arsenal closer to the top…

  6. The pricing may well be a difficult issue because just the exchange rate doesn’t tell you the real cost. But we’ll get moving toward a conclusion I suppose.

    At this point I must say it’s brilliant the amount of work Walter and Tony and everyone at Untold puts in. I just scan through the figures fairly quickly but they must be a real chore to find and compile into a meaningful analysis. Much appreciated.

  7. Anyway, I’m off to see India v Bahrain in the Asia Cup. Hope we (India) can manage to pull off an upset. I can dream can’t I? 🙂

  8. hEY WALTER iM NOT SURE IF THSI IS CORRECT BUT doesnt UEFA make some grounds keep huge sections clear at some grounds to keep away fans away where there is issues such as ROMA, im sure ive seen them do it which could affect figures

  9. ‘And also it looks like having a stadium of around 60.000 is the best capacity to sell most of your tickets. As both the stadiums of Schalke and the Emirates are around the same capacity.’

    Actually, I think Arsenal now could probably fill a bigger one, say 80,000. But to go from 38,000 to 80,000 would have been one helluva risk, so the 60,000 choice was probably the most pragmatic in reality.

    Now though that 5 years of 60,000 near sell-outs has created a stable waiting list at that capacity, increasing it would be less of a risk.

    I can’t see it happening in the near future though, unless the ground was designed in such a way that you could add another tier somehow or other.

    Remember that London is a city of 7 million and supporters of Arsenal come from quite a bit of southern England, from Kent and Sussex through to Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire and no doubt out towards Gloucestershire as well.

    When you look at the other cities with bigger stadia, you’ll probably find that their population and hinterland is miles smaller than London’s………

    I suspect that the Arsenal Board wouldn’t look at this seriously before 2020 though……..

  10. I have loved thise articles (I have even talked about them at work).
    seeing article of ticket prises would be interesting too. I’m always willing to pay more for good quality and good seat. I don’t regret payeing over 100€ for tickets to Amsterdam Arena, it was for row 02, so really close to pitch with good view (I did get nice photo of RvP standing close to me 😉 ).

  11. Here’s another thought to throw in. I was told at a meeting on matters relating to all this stuff that Bayern Munich don’t have season tickets any more, and sell all tickets for all games. Don’t know if it is true.

    But back to expanding to 80,000 – remember that the club’s big big income comes from Diamond club, club level and the boxes just above. Putting in another 20k seats would increase income but how long it would take to pay for the development I have no idea. Anyone who has sat in the very top tier at Man U or Barca will know, or indeed in the upper reaches of the ArenA will know its get to a point where you just can’t see. Saying “who is that on the left wing” at the ArenA made me think, is this worth it????

    What’s more it is not just the building, there is also the cost of expanding the transport system. I still believe the key reason tottenham wants to be Stratford H. is because of the hidden cost of improving transport in the area. They won’t have to do that in Stratford (they still use horse and cart out there).

  12. Wondering who makes the most money (attendance X average ticket price) per game day… I’d guess it’s manu, followed by the Gunners!

  13. On another note, yesterday was a day of draws. That makes it 68 drawn games so far this season, or 30.7% of all the games!

    Compare that to only 25% during last season, and you’ll see why the competition is more intense this year.

    Everton, Fulham & B’Ham have drawn 50% or more of their games!!!

  14. Hmm I am curious, what is Anfields statistics? oh and by the way, great website. I seem to agree with many of your articles on ref bias. The ref in Arsenal games (not a suporter but have massive respect for their playing style) seems to be very bias with little almost unnoticable decisions going against them very often and the bigger ones more often then not. Shame. I would prefer Arsenal to win the league this year seen as Liverpool were out of it a long time ago.

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