In years past, this type of map wouldn’t have accurately shown the real balance of power in the English Premier League. That’s because Arsenal only had an average attendance of around 36,000. With their new stadium, a 60,000 average better reflects their standing. Likewise, Liverpool’s fan base is way bigger than the 43,500 that can be squeezed into Anfield, and their projected 70,000 seat stadium will no doubt be easily filled. Everton is another matter. Something tells me there will be alot more difficulties in building their new stadium, especially since it’s proposed site is outside of the Liverpool city limits. That appears to be a big deal to many Everton supporters. Finally, just look how many clubs in the second (and third) tier had average gates over 20,000. There were 13 clubs in this category, 15 if you count newly relegated Charlton and Sheffield United. Just looking at that figure shows how healthy English football is these days.
September 28, 2007
September 24, 2007
The attendance figures of many Italian clubs were negatively affected by the “calciopoly” scandal, which resulted, among other penalties, in Juventus’ relegation to Serie B. Juventus wasn’t the only club to have a downturn at the gate. AC Milan’s attendance was also down: fans were turned off by their role in the scandal. Catania’s was down due to their having to play out the season at neutral venues, after the riot in December in which a policeman died. The next season promises better, especially with Juventus back in Serie A, as well as Napoli and Genoa, two clubs with successful pasts and large fan bases.
September 20, 2007
This map is an attendance map, using gate figures from each club’s domestic league. Most of the clubs from the old Iron Curtain have paltry attendances, compared to the western European clubs. Shakhtar Donetsk is drawing well, though. It may be surprising to some that the two Turkish clubs draw so well: Fenerbahce drawing almost 40,000 per game, and Besiktas at 26,000. Finally, it’s amazing to consider that a club drawing less than 5,000 could make this level of competition, but that’s what Slavia Prague did. I don’t think this is what new UEFA chief Michel Platini had in mind, though, when he said he wants to see more clubs from the lower rated leagues qualify. I hope not.
September 19, 2007
German fans have it good. The Bundesliga is full of gleaming sports palaces, and ticket prices are reasonable. Last year’s World Cup brought a lot of stadium improvements. Ticket prices are low because the clubs really are clubs, and the aim is recreational enjoyment for its members more than it is for profit. Another nice thing is how close to the action the fans are. In stadiums like Schalke’s Veltins Arena, Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, and Munich’s new Allianz Arena, the stands are extremely close, and at a high angle. It must be great for spectators. It sure looks great on TV, as opposed to say, the Italian league, where it seems to be mandatory to have an ugly track oval separating the fans from the action. I’m sorry, but is track and field that popular ? I mean Manchester City made sure that track oval was gone once the Commonwealth Games were over.
September 17, 2007
September 16, 2007
I made this map in early 2004. I have updated it to spring 2007 by adding all the teams who have been promoted, from Bundesliga 2, since then. Thumbnail lists of the last four Bundesliga seasons (2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07) are included.
September 15, 2007
On this map, the team’s crest size is tied to how large their average attendance is. The bigger the gate, the bigger the crest. Of course, the “Old Firm” teams of Celtic FC and Rangers FC (both from Glasgow) dominate the map, like they dominate Scottish football. After them, three teams have relatively healthy fan bases: Hearts and Hibs (both of Edinburgh), and Aberdeen. They average between 12,000 and 17,000 per game. Then there are 4 or 5 clubs with attendances between 5,000 and 8,000, like Kilmarnock and Motherwell. After that, it’s all minnows (tiny clubs).
September 14, 2007
(1876 to 1900).
The NL contracted from 12 to 8 clubs after the 1899 season. The remaining 8 clubs all still exist today, although several are in different cities. In fact, no National League club has folded since 1899.
September 12, 2007
In the Spainish Liga Futbol Professional (or “La Liga”), there are usually a couple of smaller clubs that sneak into the top flight for a year or two before being sent back down. Last season, it was Gimnastic Tarragona. For the 2007-2008 season, all three newly promoted clubs fit this category: Real Valladolid, Real Murcia, and UD Almeria. Real Murcia averaged a bit over 12,000 per game, while the other two were around 8,000.
That makes for some pretty meager gate receipts, especially when compared to the 70,000 per game that FC Barcelona and Real Madrid draw. One would think that these smaller sides have no hope of any kind of success in La Liga. But look at how well Getafe CF has done. Located in the unfashionable outskirts south of Madrid, in a small stadium ringed by expressways, this upstart club had never been in the top flight before promotion in 2004. It was only formed in 1983, out of the remnants of two small clubs. But once they got to La Liga, they’ve thrived, with finishes of 13th, 9th and 9th. In fact, they’ve earned a berth in the 2007-2008 UEFA Cup (the second-tier European competition) by being the runners-up in the Copa del Rey in 2007, losing to Sevilla 1-0. This was accomplished while in the shadow of Real and Atletico Madrid, who between them drew 113,000 per game. Getafe drew 11,000 per game. Talk about plucky minnows.
Every country in Europe has from two to four clubs that dominate the football league. Spain is no different. At this point it’s the big two of Barcalona and Real Madrid, with Valencia and Sevilla closing in. But in Spain, the ”lesser” clubs can really do some damage—just look at who has won the Copa del Rey recently: Espanyol (the poorly supported neighbor of Barcelona) in 2006, and 2000; Real Betis (a perennial underachiever with good attendance and few trophies) in 2005; “cup specialists” Real Zaragoza in 2004, 2001,and 1994; and complete nobodies Real Mallorca in 2003.
Villareal CF is another example of a Spanish club punching above their weight. The town has just over 40,000 inhabitants, yet the “Yellow Submarines” ably handled the likes of Benfica, Manchester United and Inter Milan during the 2005-2006 European Champions League, making it to the semi-finals. This from a club that had never been in the top flight before 1999. CD Tenerife, from the remote Canary Islands, had a similar run, albeit in the UEFA Cup, in the mid-1990′s. But Tenerife’s run ended in a crash and burn as they sank in the late 1990′s, through overspending and mass defections.
That is the great threat posed to medium size clubs: stretching ones’ self too thin by going for glory in Europe, while sliding down the table in the domestic competition. It happens again and again, all over Europe. Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen to Getafe this season, though a defection has already occurred: manager Bernd Schuster bought out his contract with Getafe, to become manager of Real Madrid. One can’t criticize him for his ambition, but it remains to be seen if Getafe can succeed without him.
You can print an image of this map by clicking on the gif at the top of this post. The table to accompany the map is also avilable there.
September 3, 2007
After years of drawing maps of sports leagues, I decided I wanted to better represent how “big” each team was. By “big,” I mean successful and popular. These two usually go hand in hand. An ideal way of measuring this would be some complicated system tabulating championships, cup wins, years spent in the first division, attendance figures, and merchandise sales. But that would be a ridiculously vast undertaking. To cut to the chase, I came up with this kind of map…for a printable version, click here
I decided to simply use average attendance figures to determine the pixel size of each team’s logo. I think this system works well in visually establishing which teams are big, which are also-rans, and which are minnows.
Here, one can see the predominance of Olympique de Marseille, Paris St. Germain FC, and Olympique Lyonnais. Also, one is able to see which smaller clubs are nearby the big clubs, while, at a glance, understanding their importance (or lack thereof).
Another feature is that 2nd division clubs with solid followings are not ignored, as they so often are by the media. One can see how two clubs, SM Caen and RC Strasbourg, drew better than 30% of the 1st division. Not surprisingly, they both were promoted at the end of the season.
Of course there are anamolies, such as in the case of Lille OSC. They are awaiting finalization of plans for a new stadium, and are playing currently in a small, inadequate stadium with a capacity of around 18,000. Nevertheless, they finished in 2nd place two seasons ago, and have played well in the Champions League for two straight seasons. So by the dictates of my system, their logo is rather small sized, and does not reflect their recent success. This will change when their 33,000 seat stadium is completed. It is targeted for a 2010 completion, but no one is holding their breath.
On the other hand, Stade Rennais FC averages 25,000 per game, but has little silverware in the trophy case (last trophy: French Cup in 1971). So on the map, their logo is rather large, but their accomplishments are small. This can be explained by the fact that, as the prominent team of Brittany, they are assured of solid support, regardless of success. The ultimate example of this is Newcastle United FC, the poster boys for popular futility. Year in, year out, this northern English club draws over 50,000 per game, but has not won anything meaninigful since 1955.
In other words, my Attendance Maps don’t necessarily measure accomplishment, but they do measure the ability to sell tickets. And nine times out of ten, success at the turnstile means success on the pitch.