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June 2021

Misleading crowd comparisons for Arsenal, and PL bail out Liverpool.

By Tony Attwood

Much is being made of the fact that we have just seen the lowest attendance ever at the Emirates Stadium.   Where reported it reads like a shock horror tale of absolute decline.

But sadly although there are some big headlines around, the reporters don’t give any background to help us make a judgement.  So here it is.

The previous lowest attendance at the Ems for a competitive match was in 2012 when 46,539 turned up for a match against Shrewsbury Town at the same stage of the same competition.  The capacity is 60,432.

We might compare this with other stadia – although of course there are always other factors to take into account.  Chelsea got 40.621, which was just 1000 under capacity.  But Man U got 54,256, which is over 20,000 below capacity.  Now I know that Man U has tended to make it compulsory for season ticket holders to buy tickets for League Cup games – I’m not sure if that is still true, but if it is that might have artificially upped the numbers.

West Brom got 14,953 in a ground that holds 26850 – so only just over half full for the visit of Man City.

But what, I hear you cry, of the Tottenham Hotspur Football Experience (TM).  Tottenham worked hard not just to get Wembley for a year, but Wembley with the full 90,000 capacity (an agreement that meant bypassing the bylaws restricting the number of events held at the stadium each year).   They got 23,826.  That is 26% capacity, compared to Arsenal’s 77% capacity.  And Tottenham did reduce their prices, too.  But The Arsenal story is BIG NEWS (mentioned in most papers, full blooded headlines in some).

West Ham against Bolton got 35,806.  The capacity of the so-called London Stadium (better known as the Tax Payers Stadium) is 60,000.  So the state aided club got 60% capacity.  Best not to mention these things.  A bit complex for journalists to follow and they spoil a good, although misleading, story.

However there was quite widespread appreciation for Jack Wilshere.  According to the Guardian he “shone a light on the qualities he is capable of bringing to his team from the heart of midfield. Against opponents where there was space to look and think, he relished the opportunity to orchestrate, to spray passes with elan and to direct traffic with quick thinking and clear vision. He was not in a situation where he had to overstretch and over-compete, which suited him well. It was a positive stride along the road to recovery at his boyhood club that has had plenty of potholes.”

Meanwhile in other news, not too many blogs have troubled themselves with Liverpool’s tapping-up scandal, their ban from signing academy players, and the fact that they sued the family of a schoolboy whom they illicitly signed.  Some have, and a few have dug up some details, but it hasn’t really hit the headlines.

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I suppose it was just a schoolboy story, and hardly national news, although it always seemed important to me for the light it throws on the running of the club.  But I know, I’m odd in my choice of importance.

Anyway, its all over.  The Premier League agreed to pay the school fees and compensation of the 13-year-old victim.

Now you might want to take a pause for breath here.  The guilty party was Liverpool FC.  And that’s not just me doing a pro-Arsenal anti-Liverpool rant.  Even the Telegraph (no friend of Untold’s) write about how “the Anfield side’s illicit pursuit of the unnamed schoolboy left his family in thousands of pounds of debt and him unable to play academy football until Stoke City were paid £49,000.”

In effect the League has fined Liverpool £100,000 and then used half the money to pay off the young lad who has suffered at the hands of Liverpool – probably to avoid being sued by the boy’s family.

Finally, as a result of the “settlement” (which is a bit of an odd word considering that the guilty party has had the results of its misdemeanour paid for by the judge and jury in the case) the lad is now free to go to another club.  According to the Telegraph, the father of the boy said after the settlement that the whole affair had “seriously had an impact on his health.

Part of the issue within the case, as I have pointed out before, is that the family stated at the hearings that Liverpool had instructed them to lie to Premier League team considering the case, about the tapping-up incident.  The League has seemingly not followed this up, nor on the allegation that the League were given false documents by Liverpool in a deliberate attempt to carry off the tapping up.

Liverpool have denied such allegations but did admit breaching the rules about tapping up academy players.  The other team to have been found guilty of tapping up two scholars, as you will probably know was Manchester City.

Of course because youngsters are involved in these cases it is right that there is a significant degree of protection of their identity, just as there is in the Family Division of the High Court – the only court in England where as a matter of course, outsiders are not allowed to observe the working of the court (which is a fundamental part of our democracy).

But in such cases, once the matter is resolved, it is, I think, very important to have a full and detailed statement from the League of the full facts of the case (with the boy’s details not revealed) so that we can see that justice has been done.  In this case the issues surrounding the fine and the school fees and why the League paid the expenses is not at all clear.

Now I know that when Untold covers matters relating to other clubs we can get some abuse; that’s what happened on blogs.  But I would say that I have taken the details here from the reports in the Telegraph (today) and the Guardian and they by and large concur.  If you have contrary information about the case I would be grateful if you could state your source so we can try to get to the bottom of the story.

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14 comments to Misleading crowd comparisons for Arsenal, and PL bail out Liverpool.

  • Sorry Tony but you omit to say that the attendance figure stated and the actual attendance figure are different .

    People who have paid for a ticket and don’t attend are included eg Club Level ( which was very empty last night, )

  • People are now being invited from Lower /Upper level to join Club . This suggests to me little or no waiting list for club level

  • Jax

    44+ thousand isn’t too bad a turn out for a match (no disrespect to our opponents) of this stature. If regular supporters opt to vote with their feet & stay away it sends the Football League a message that they’ve been ignoring since its inception.

  • Jax

    That’s the inception of the competition, the League Cup

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    If over 40000 football fans came in into the Emirates Stadium as they did last night to watch a 3rd round Carabao Cup match between Arsenal and the visiting Doncaster Rovers FC, I think the reported over 46000 fans who were said to have attended the match should be described as a low attendance but a good attendance that watched the match. More so, if the quality and the League status of the opposition Doncaster FC team which is not expected to be a crowd puller on the night is considered.

    I don’t think Arsenal should bother themselves over the alarming media headlines that raises alarm on the slightest of opportunity on not so important issues and matters that concerned Arsenal which shouldn’t have warranted media news headline talkless of to make an alarm headlines of them.

    Having laboured to overcame the Doncaster Rovers FC resistant in the Carabao Cup match at the Ems yesterday night, I think what should be of importance to Arsenal and us the Gooners to focus on now is our next home PL match against the visiting WBA team on Monday night. This is a match in which Arsenal must endeavour to win by all lawful and possible means to collect all the 3 points that will be at stake in the match so as to enhance their placing in the League table.

    As for our next Carabao Cup match date, Arsenal will at the Ems waiting for Norwich City FC, their next opponents in the 4th round and will deal seriously with them at that time to seal a 5th round place more than they dealt with Doncaster Rovers to get a 4th round birth.

  • Pat

    I don’t care what the stated attendance at the match was, the atmosphere was good, the noise level was good, lots of kids got to see a match who never normally can.

    There was a mother in front of me with her two girls and one was extra excited and jumped on her seat to see whenever there was action. There was a dad next to me with his little eight year old who thought they would get a cup at the end of the match. What is football about if not for things like that?

  • Chris


    had the Ems been full, they’d have carried a headline screaming it was dangerous because of all the kids around-…..

    Whichever way we’re going it is going to be negative.
    We ought to be used to it.

    As for the kid with Liverpool, it is just f….g disgusting and in direct line with the issue of the FA’s handling of the national woman’s manager.

    As for why they paid, to me it is just an aknowledgment that the FA was part and party to all that and that Pool! must have told them : pay or we talk. No other reason can justify it but an admission of guilt. They were part of the problem, they screwed up and paid so it is all swiped below the carpet. This just stinks.

  • Nitram


    I’m just guessing, but I bet Talkshite are all over this Liverpool/FA story this morning, as opposed to giving us a hard time over last nights attendance.

    Or maybe not.

  • Chris


    no idea, I dont have UK radio/TV
    As far as I am concerned, I’m not even sure they would be… but I do hope they are.

    Considering that scandals is what makes (electronic)papers sell, I’m surprised this is not in the headlines all over the country along with the 3 Lions woman’s (so called…) manager scandal. Then again, maybe they fera that criticizing the FA may create problems for reporting PL games ?

  • Pat

    Can I recommend an article on Positively Arsenal called The British Core is Alive and Well? A demolition of lazy journalism, backed up with facts that any journalist worth their salt could easily have accessed.

  • Nitram


    Sorry, didn’t realise you couldn’t receive Talksport. You don’t know how lucky you are.

    As it happens it was just tongue in cheek really. Even though I could, I choose to never listen to Talksport, but if they are still anything like they were, there is a very high chance they will be treating our attendance last night as infinitely more important and disturbing than any misdemeanours perpetrated by either Liverpool or the FA.

    I hope somebody can tell me I’m wrong, but I have my doubts.

  • Chris

    Here is the British Core blog post

    Nice one. Considering the numbers, can’t understand why the british press keeps hitting on such a ‘patriotic’ Arsenal ?!?!

  • I feel this Cup is important it gives valuable playing time for our up and coming youngsters ,also for under used senior players . Let’s be honest who doesn’t enjoy a Cup Final .

    The gaps last night were the biggest yet for whatever reason ( shame ) but I have no doubt the attendance will improve next round . Big stadiums magnify gaps

  • Nitram


    As I have said many times about the media, as often as not it isn’t what they say about Arsenal, but the lack of perspective with which they say it.

    And as you say above, it is this lack of perspective that yet again provides a misleading interpretation of facts, simply in order that they can be used as just another weapon with which to bash us.

    And this is just typical of what the media do to us all the time. Here are a couple of other examples:

    As was shown recently, Arsene Wengers win ratio over the last 100 matches compares favourably with his peers. Yet he is constantly portrayed as an abject failure. Another totally inaccurate interpretation of the facts. No, not the best, but nothing like the incompetent failure he is constantly portrayed as.

    Wengers trophy haul over recent years also compares favourably with his peers. Yes we would all like a championship and a CL, but failure to win either of those in the current climate also has to be put into perspective, but it clearly is not.

    Ticket prices. Whilst expensive, when properly analysed, as has been done by Untold in the past, it can be seen that they are nothing like the ‘Shock horror’ prices they are portrayed to be in the media.

    Injuries. Yes we get injuries and we have periods with more out than we would all like. But again, when proper analysis is done, they are nothing like as bad as the medias agenda would have us believe.

    And now we have this. I mean it’s not as if it’s the first time either.

    Okay, yes it was our lowest Emirates attendance, but where again is the perspective? As Tony points out we where still over 70% full. West Ham were only around half full, and Spurs even worse.

    Old Trafford was nothing like full.

    But who is it getting all the negative headlines? Arsenal as usual.

    I’ve trawled around the internet to find similar ridicule aimed in the direction of anyone other than Arsenal. I couldn’t find anything in the mainstream media, at least not via headlines. If it’s there at all, it’s certainly tucked away.

    The one article I did find was from which had the headline:


    It continued:

    “The London Stadium wasn’t full by any stretch of the imagination on Monday night, in fact, it was pretty much half full as West Ham saw off Bolton 3-0 in the Carabao Cup competition.

    Early rounds of the League Cup often struggle with poor attendances and in light of that, the Hammers hierarchy launched a pay on the gate initiative for supporters to try and get a few more punters through the gates.

    It worked as well as the London Stadium played host to 35,806 supporters on Tuesday evening who saw the Londoners coast through to the fourth round of the competition thanks to goals from Angelo Ogbonna, Diafra Sakho and a wonder strike from Arthur Masuaku.

    The Barnsley players applaud their supporters with empty seats behind them in the Spurs ends

    Compare that with bitter rivals Spurs, who were taking on Barnsley 23 miles away at their temporary Wembley home in the same competition.

    Dele Alli bagged the winner as Mauricio Pochettino’s men limped past the Championship outfit 1-0 in front of just 23,826 paying punters in north London.”

    So at least they point out the low number of Spurs fans that showed up, if not in the same derisory tone to that which is aimed at Arsenal by the likes of the Sun and the Mirror.

    As you say Tony, utterly misleading and totally bereft of any perspective what so ever.

    Arsenal bashing at it’s shameless worst.

    NOTE: I am not in any way criticising any of the Clubs I have mentioned, just the way it’s reported.