July 31, 2010

Premier League, 2010-11 season: attendance map, with percentage capacities, from 2009-10.


The map shows average attendance of Premier League clubs, via proportionally-sized club crests. The higher the club’s average attendance, the larger the club’s crest is on the map.
On the left-hand side of the map page, there is a chart that shows 6 statistics…1). Attendance rank of each Premier League club within the whole English football pyramid. 2). Average attendance from 2009-10 domestic league matches {source: Mike Avery’s Non-League Football page, 2009-10 archive/Mean Average Crowd, here}. 3). Average attendance from 2 seasons ago (2008-09). 4). Percent change from 08/09 to 09/10. 5). Each club’s stadium capacity for Premier League matches {source: Profiles, here}. 6). Percent Capacity (average attendance divided by capacity).

When you are talking about capacity of Premier League stadiums, the number is smaller than the number most sources give for that stadium. That’s because in Premier League grounds, for safety reasons, sections of seats in the stadiums are always left vacant to separate home fans from away fans. So for example, there are 76,312 seats in Manchester United’s Old Trafford, but the official Premier League site lists Old Trafford’s capacity at 75,769.

Look how tiny Blackpool’s crest is on the map. There were 50 clubs in England (and Wales) that had a higher average attendance than Blackpool last season. But Blackpool are now a Premier League club. Just one more example of the interesting wrinkles that the promotion/relegation system creates. Blackpool averaged 8,614 per game at Bloomfield Road, which had a capacity of only around 9,500 to 10,035 for four-fifths of last season. Because of ongoing construction and expansion of the Bloomfield Road ground, pinning down their percent capacity was a problem. I was unable to find definite stadium capacity for the period between late November and early March, so I listed percent capacities for the first 5 and last 5 home league matches (at the bottom of the chart).

Highest percentage-capacity numbers in the Premier League last season were…Arsenal (99.3%), Manchester United (98.81%), Tottenham (98.79%), Stoke City (98.77%), and Chelsea (97.6%). 4 of these 5 clubs also were the top four finishers in the league table. The other, Stoke City, are renowned for having the loudest fans in English football. Stoke finished a respectable 11th place in 2009-10, and are well on their way to re-establishing a firm footing in the top flight. This season will be their third season back in the top tier after a 23-season spell in the lower leagues [Stioke were in the second division for 16 seasons and in the third division for 7 seasons in two separate spells]. Once this season starts, Stoke City will have played 55 seasons in the English first division.

Clubs with the next-best percent-capacities, in the 90-97 percent capacity range were… Wolverhampton (96.8%), Manchester City (96.0%), West Ham United (95.4%), Liverpool (94.7%), and Fulham (93.8%).

Not surprisingly, Wigan Athletic once again had the lowest average attendance and the lowest percent capacity. Wigan averaged 18,006 per game, with a 71.6 percent-capacity. Second worst percent-capacity was by Bolton, who drew 21,881 per game with a 77.9 percent-capacity. The 3 relegated clubs, Hull City, Burnley, and Portsmouth, had very respectable percent-capacities, of 96.0% (Hull), 91.6 % (Burnley), and 88.4% (Portsmouth). That and the rest of the 2010-11 League Championship’s percent capacities is covered in my map and post of the Football League Championship, 2010-11 season – attendance map, with average atendances and percent capacities (from 2009-10), here.

We’ll see how the Green and Gold protest movement affects Man U’s attendance this season…it’s now three straight seasons that Old Trafford has seen a slightly diminished turnstile count. Here is a related article from the essential Two Hunderd site, from 23rd July, 2010, by Ian King, ‘Conflicting Season Ticket Stories at Old Trafford

From the Dirty Tackle site, from 13 August, 2010, by Brooks Peck: ‘The five Premier League clubs to sell out their season tickets‘.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, 2010-11 Premier League.
Thanks to, Mike Avery’s Non-League Football site.
Thanks to E-F-S site, E-F-S attendances.
Thanks to the official Premier League site, for stadium capacities, Club Profiles at

July 27, 2010

Spain: the 3 promoted clubs from Segunda División to La Liga, for the 2010-11 season.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Spain — admin @ 6:28 pm

La Liga official site… [translated].

The map page shows the 3 clubs that were promoted in Spain, in June 2010, from the Segunda División to La Liga, for the 2010-11 season. 3 or 4 photos of each club’s stadium are shown on the map page, along with club info.
{2010-11 La Liga at}.
{Segunda División 2010-11 map from}.

Real Sociedad won the 2009-10 Segunda División title and return to La Liga after 3 seasons in the second division. Real Sociedad de Fútbol are from the Basque Country city of San Sebastián, which is on the southern coast of the Bay Of Biscay.

San Sebastián has a metropolitan area population of around 393,000 {European Spatial Planning Network figure from 2007; see this list}. San Sebastián is the 17th largest metro area in Spain, and the fourth largest city in the Greater Basque Region [Bilbao is the largest Basque city {see this}]. The Greater Region of the Basque Country [as defined by Basque nationalists] {see this} includes two political divisions of Spain…the Basque Country, and the Autonomous Community of Navarre; as well as three small historical provinces in France (which is sometimes called the Northern Basque country)…Lower Navarre, Labourd, and Soule.

Real Sociedad were one of the founding members, in 1929, of the first season of La Liga (which had 10 clubs playing 18 matches, and was won by Barcelona) {1929 – first season of Primera División [aka La Liga]}.

Real Sociedad has played 63 seasons in La Liga, and have two national titles to their name…back-to-back La Liga championships in 1980-81 and 1981-82. Real Sociedad have won 2 Copa del Rey titles. The two were won almost 8 decades apart…their first in 1909 [which preceded the club's official formation, but this title is ascribed by most to Real Sociedad] , and their second in 1987.

In 2002-03, a third La Liga title was within Real Sociedad’s grasp, but the Txuri-Urdin, or white-blue, agonizingly lost first place to Real Madrid on the 37th match day. That Real Sociedad squad featured local talent and Spanish national team World Cup winner Xabi Alonso, and the Turkish striker Nihat Kahveci. The club never recovered from that… they finished 15th the following season, and then had finishes of 14th place, then 16th place, and then 19th place and relegation in 2007.

Real Sociedad have a pretty sizable fan base. In their failed title run of 2002-03, they averaged 27,743 per game, and when they got relegted 4 seasons later, they drew 23,076. Last season in their promotion campaign, they drew 19,927 per game, second highest in the Segunda División (behind only the faltering, underacheiving giants Real Betis, who drew 28,730 for their second season in their latest spell in the second tier).

Real Sociedad play at Anoeta, which opened in 1993. Anoeta is one of those faceless structures which is basically a concrete doughnut. The 32,000-capacity municipal facility is also marred by it’s running track. The club had attempted to have a redevelopment of Anoeta, including an expansion and a removal of the running track, but the city government rejected that proposal 6 years ago. Anoeta is also sometimes used by two Basque rugby clubs, Biarritz (who are based just across the border in France), and Bayonne (also based in France). Here is another photo of Anoeta, from the site {Real Sociedad/Venue at}.

The other two clubs promoted to the 2010-11 La Liga are both from the Valencian Autonomous Community… Levante UD, who are from the city of Valencia, and Hércules CF, who are from the city of Alicante.
{Valencian Community []} ; {Valencian Community @ All About Spain site}.

Second place in the 2009-10 Segunda División were Valencian club Levante. [Valencia is the fourth largest city in Spain, and the third-largest metropolitan area. Valencia has a city population of around 814,000 {2009 figure}, and, as Valencia-Sagunto, it has a metro area population of around 1.5 million {ESOPN figure, 2007}.

Levante UD have only played 5 seasons in La Liga, and their fan base is dwarfed by local rivals Valencia CF...Levante drew only 7,814 per game last season, and during their last 2-season-spell in the top flight, they drew 16,799 per game in 2006-07 and 12,330 per game in 2007-08. If that 07/08 figure looks pretty low compared to the 06/07 figure, that's because most everyone knew that Levante were doomed to be relegated in 2008, seeing as how they were in a huge financial mess, and evidently had only been paying their players around 20% of their wages (wages were eventually payed via a quasi-testimonial match). Levante play at the municipal stadium, Ciutat de Valencia, which has a capacity of 23,500 and looks like it would be nice place to see a match, with deecnt, backed seats in stands pretty close to the pitch; and for a dry part of Spain it still does feature a certain percentage of covered seats (the second link right below shows a photo with a roofed part of the stand). Here is a good panoramic photo of 'Nou Estadi Ciutat de Valencia (Levante UD) ', by Sascha Drenth at . {Levante/Venue at}.

Levante do have one major title to their name, but seeing as they won the Copa de La España Libre title back in 1937, which was during the Spanish Civil War, and which ended up being a one-time only competition that comprised just 4 teams, you might want to put an asterisk next to that trophy. There were no La Liga seasons for three years (1936-37, 1937-38, and 1938-39), and there was no Cop del Rey competrition in 1937 and 1938. In 1937 Franco's army controlled several areas of the country (in the north and the south) which meant clubs from Seville (Real Betis and Sevilla), the Basque Country (Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad), and Galicia (Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruña) were cut off from clubs in the Republican-controlled areas. There were just 12 clubs in La Liga back then, so that meant half the league was cut off from the other half. The Republican strongholds included 3 of the 4 major cities...Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia, and a good portion of the surrounding countryside. So La Liga was suspended for 3 seasons, and the Copa del Rey for 2 seasons. In the place of the League was the Mediterranean League (1937, won by Barcelona) and then the Catalan League (never completed). In place of the national Cup in 1937 was the Copa de la España Libre. Barcelona (wisely , I would say) opted to not enter this competition, and FC Barcelona toured Mexico that summer. In their place went Levante, and Levante went on the beat Valencia 1-0 in the final at Monjuic in Barcelona on 18 July, 1937. The 4 clubs that competed in the Copa de la España Libre {see this} were Valencia, Espanyol, Levante, and a small club from the Catalonian city of Girona, Girona FC. [Girona have never been in the top flight and are currently in Segunda División. Girona is 85 km. northeast of Barcelona].

Hércules, who have played 19 seasons of La Liga football, won the third promotion spot, and will return to La Liga after a 13-year absence (which included 5 seasons in the third division from 2000 to 2005). Hércules CF are from the Valencian Community city of Alicante, which is part of the Alicante-Elche metropolitan area, and is the 8th largest metro area in Spain, with a metro population of around 793,000 {ESOPN figure, 2007}. The city of Alicante itself has a population of around 335,000 {2009 figure}. Alicante is 125 km. (78 miles) south-west of Valencia. Hérclues play at the 30,000-capacity Estadio José Rico Pérez, which might seem rather large for a club that has yet to play two decades worth of seasons in the top top flight (a third division club, Alicante CF, also uses the stadium). But the Estadio José Rico Pérez (built in 1974) is that large because it was one of the venues for the 1982 World Cup. Anyway, seeing as how Hércules drew 14,186 per game last season, and factoring in the inevitable post-promotion-attendance-increase, I don’t think the stadium will be that empty this season. Here is another photo of the stadium {Hércules/Venue at}. It looks like a stadium in Argentina, with the one tall and steep stand, and all the stands so close to the pitch.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at and,
2010-11 La Liga.
Primera División de España [].
Thanks to, for the 09/10 final table.
Thanks to, for the blank map of Spain.
Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance figures, E-F-S, attendances/Espana.

July 23, 2010

Italy: the 3 clubs promoted from Serie B to Serie A for the 2010-11 season.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Italy — admin @ 6:46 pm


The map page shows the 3 clubs in Italy that won promotion from Serie B to Serie A, in May, 2010. Three photos of each club’s stadium are shown.

Yo-yo club Lecce are back, once again, in the Italian top flight, after having won the 2009-10 Serie B title. US Lecce are from Lecce, Apulia (population 94,000 {2009 figure}), which is near the Italian peninsula’s boot-heel tip, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Lecce first gained promotion to Serie A in 1985, but were relegated the following season, setting a pattern that stubbornly persists. Lecce got promoted back to the top tier 2 seasons later, in 1988. A 9th place finish, in 1988-89, is to this day Lecce’s highest placement. But after a three-season spell in the first division they were relegated again, in 1991. They won promotion again in 1994, but finished dead last with only 11 points in 1993-94. Back-to-back relegations saw Lecce in Serie C by 1996. Then back-to-back promotions put Lecce back in Serie A in 1997, for their fourh spell in a 13-year period. Lecce were relegated once again the following season (in 1998). Lecce bounced right back to Serie A the next year, and had another 3-year stint in the top level. That takes us to 2002. 2003 saw Lecce back in Serie A (their sixth spell in the top flight). For the third time, Lecce had a 3-season run in Serie A, and were relegated in 2006. A two-year stint in Serie B ensued, with promotion to Serie A in 2008. Relegation in 2009. Promotion in 2010. So in August, 2010, Lecce will thus begin their 8th spell in Serie A in just 25 years.

Lecce’s kit {US Lecce 10/11 kits, here (Football Shirt} features their retina-searing red-and-yellow-vertical-striped jerseys, which are subtly balanced off by dark royal blue pants, and a classy wolf-and-fruit-tree-in-gold-on-a-navy-shield as their crest. Only Italians could pull off red and yellow stripes and not look clownish (Ghana national team away kit notwithstanding).

Lecce dew only 12,171 per game for their last season in Serie A, in 2008-09. But during their previous 3-season spell before that, from 2003-04 to 2005-06, Lecce were drawing in the low 16,000 to high 15,000 range. So it looks like Lecce supporters are tiring of the club’s perpetual comings and goings to and from the top flight. Lecce’s stadium, the Stadio Via del Mare, capacity 33,876, has a running track. Ugh. On the map page, take a look at the middle photo of Lecce’s stadium, and that yawning gap between the stands and the pitch.

Second place in the 2009-10 Serie B was Cesena. This makes back-to-back promotions for Cesena. AC Cesena are from the small city of Cesena (population, 95,000 [2009 figure}), which is in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, 15 km. (9 miles) from the Adriatic Sea coast. Which makes me wonder why they have a seahorse in their crest, seeing as how Cesena is not actually a coastal city. Cesena drew 11,272 per game last season, which was second best in Serie B [Torino drew highest in the Italian second division. 2009-10 Italian attendance figures here (E-F-S site)]. Here is an article on Cesena’s promotion, from, ‘Cesena’s Fairytale’, by GT (2nd June, 2010).

Cesena play in the 23,860-capacity Stadio Dino Manuzzi, which is unusual for a municipal stadium in Italy in that it has no unsightly and atmosphere-deadening running track. I find it ironic that this part of Emilia-Romagna (the eastern, Romagna half), which has very little history of top-flight football, has built a municipal stadium that is pretty decent and has no running track. After all, Italy is the land of the running track stadium (rivaled only by Brazil for that dubious distinction). In Italy, it is often the case that the city, not the football club, owns the stadium. Fine. [16 of the 17 stadiums in Serie A this coming season are municipally-owned, with the exception being Rome's Stadio Ilimpico, and that is owned by the Italian National Olympic Committee.] But that is no excuse for all the god-awful running tracks ruining the atmosphere at top-flight Italian football matches. Why on earth are running tracks so necessary ? Where is the mass audience for track and field ? And it’s not like Italy has a great track-and field tradition. I mean how often do you ever see an Italian win a medal in the Summer Olympics in track and field, for crying out loud ? How on earth can the capital, Rome, allow a situation where it’s two first division clubs, AS Roma and SS Lazio, play on stadium with a running track ?

OK, digression here…here are the track and field medals from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics {click here (ESPN)}. As you can see, I am totally wrong on this, because Italy won a gold medal in race walking. So you see, it was all worth it to ruin the atmosphere in virtually half the Italian top flight football matches, for about 70 years, by having facilities with running tracks. Because there is nothing more prestigious than winning an Olympic gold medal in race walking. They don’t call race walking the Beautiful Stroll for nothing.

Third place in the 2009-10 Serie B went to Brescia. Brescia Calcio are from Brescia, Lombardy, a city of around 190,000, 82 km. (51 miles) east of Milan. Brescia are back in the top tier for the first time since 2005, which was one year after legendary Italian international Roberto Baggio retired. He had turned his back on the limelight and pressures of Milan club football (with stints at AC Milan and at Inter), to happily play out the tail end of his career for Brescia, a small and up to that point unfashionable club in the foothills of the Alps.

Here is a nice Youtube video, by iiFAZZA10 – ’10 piu bei gol di (10 beautiful goals of) Roberto BAGGIO’ [note: numbers 10, 8, 5, 3 and 2 are from Baggio's Brescia days] {click here}].

Circa 2000 to 2004, Baggio basically kept Brescia up in Serie A (Baggio scored 45 goals in 95 games for Brescia), to the point where they became popularly known as “Baggio’s Brescia”, and when he exited, the modestly supported club went straight back to Serie B the following season. Brescia were averaging in the 7,000s, in Serie B, a decade ago, and were drawing in the 15-17,000 per game range when Baggio was there, from 2000 to 2004. The club has an even smaller fan base now, averaging only 3,937 per game last season (and drew only 2,996 in 2008-09), but, like Bari and Parma last year, Brescia will probably see a large increase in attendance for their return to Serie A.

Bescia’s stadium. Stadio Mario Rigamonti has an actual capacity of 27,592, but it’s current capacity has been restricted to 16,308 (that will probably change to a higher capacity now that Brescia are back in Serie A). The stadium originally had a running track, but it was removed and grass was planted there. However, seats still remain very far away from the pitch.

For the 2010-11 Serie A season, there are 8 stadiums with running tracks, and 9 clubs playing on pitches poisoned by running tracks… Roma, Lazio, Catania, Lecce, Bari, Napoli, Bologna, Chievo Verona, and Udinese. And although the putrid orange track itself is gone at Brescia’s stadium, the huge gap between seats and pitch remains, so you would have to lump Brescia in with the other 9 running-track-afflicted clubs. By way of comparison, for the 2010-11 La Liga season in Spain, there are 3 clubs who must play on pitches ringed by running tracks, UD Alméria, RCD Mallorca, and Real Sociedad. In England, not a single Premier League stadium has a running track, and this has been the case for years. In fact, you would have to go all the way down to the Conference National, which is the 5th Level in the English football league system, to find a club playing on a pitch with a running track (the Welsh club Newport County) [note: Rotherham United and Brighton & Hove Albion play at stadiums with running tracks, but in both cases these clubs (from League Two and League One, respectively) are playing there because of stadium problems, and next season Brighton will move into a new, running track-free stadium].

Hats off to the people running things in Palermo, Cagliari and Florence (Fiorentina), because these three clubs play in stadia where the local authorities had the good sense to remove the the running tracks and build stands closer to the pitch. Heck, the folks in Palermo figured this out way back in the late 1940s, because the Stadio Renzo Barbera there had it’s running track removed and stands built closer to the pitch in 1948. Why the people who run the other Italian municipalities which have top flight representation have never seen fit to do the same for their stadiums is beyond me. Italian calcio fans deserve better than this.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at and, 2010-11 Serie A. Thanks to Eric Gaba. aka Sting, for the brilliant blank topographic map of Italy, ‘Sting’- location maps at Wikimedia.
Thanks to, for the attendance figures, E-F-S site. Thanks to, for the final table.

July 19, 2010

Germany: the 2 clubs promoted from 2. Bundesliga to Bundesliga, for the 2010-2011 season.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Germany — admin @ 5:04 pm


Only two clubs won promotion to the German Bundesliga in May, because of the result in the Relegation Playoff. The 3rd place finisher in 2. Bundesliga, FC Augsburg (who have never been in the top flight), lost to Nürnberg, 3-0 aggregate.

Promoted back to the Bundesliga, after a four-season absence from the German top flight, are 1. FC Kaiserslautern, from Kaiserslautern in Rhineland-Palatinate, near to the France and Luxembourg frontiers. Kaiserslautern is a city with a population of only around 99,000 {2006 figure}. The club play in the 48,500-capacity Fritz Walter Stadion, which was one of the venues for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Fritz Walter was the captain of the 1954 World Cup-winning Germany national team, and played his entire club career for Kaiserslautern. (I would have said his entire pro career, but Germany remained amateur until the formation of the Bundesliga.) Walter was part of Kaiserslautern’s first two title-winning teams, in 1951 and 1953.

Kaiseslautern were one of the 16 original clubs in the first Bundesliga season of 1963-64, and have played in 42 of the 47 Bundesliga seasons. Kaiserslautern have won 4 German titles (2 during the Bundesliga era), their most recent championship being in 1998, when they achieved the pretty rare feat (in modern times, at least) of winning the national title one season after being promoted. This is the only time it has happened since the formation of the Bundesliga. Another distinction FC Kaiseslautern has is that they are the club from the smallest city in Germany to have won a Bundesliga title.

Below is a chart showing club crests from the history of 1. FC Kaiserslautern, with the history of the club’s mergers and name changes listed, as well as the club’s major titles. There were several mergers early in the club’s history, and Kaiseslautern’s full, present-day name originated in 1932. Also since 1932, the club has maintained the same crimson-disk-with-acronym device as their logo, only the fonts have changed (and now in 2010, the color has changed, to a deep maroon or burgandy; ditto their home kits’ primary color).
Second place in 2. Bundesliga went to the Hamburg-based FC St. Pauli, who are renowned as probably the most radical-left-wing football club on the planet. FC St. Pauli is a club that definitely flies its freak flag. Since the mid-1980s, the club has used their location near to Hamburg’s famous Reeperbahn to their advantage. The Reeperbahn {see this} is a street in the St. Pauli district that is one of the two centers of nightlife in Hamburg, and home to the city’s red-light district. Home matches became an “event”. A decidedly party-hardy, left-wing/anarchist event. Most importantly, the club… the organization itself, and it’s supporters… have taken a strong stance against racism, fascism, sexism, and homophobia, and are active in the pursuit of social justice in the cause of low-income housing.

FC St. Pauli have recovered from an almost fatal financial deficit, and are now back in the top tier for their eighth season of first division football, their last spell being one season in 2001-02, which preceded back to back relegations to the regionalised 3rd division Oberliga, with 4 seasons in Regionalliga Nord (from 2003 to 2007). St. Pauli are in the process of a total overhaul of their stadium. The plan is to do it one stand at a time, and to have the renovation and expansion finished in 2014, turning the 22,648 capacity stadium into one with a capacity of around 27,000. One stand (the South Stand) is being rebuilt, and next will be the Main Stand.

Here is an article on FC St. Pauli, from The, which includes an excellent 8 minute documentary about the club, from Trans World Sport…FC St. Pauli: Non-established since 1910.

From, from 19-07-2010, an interview with veteran MF Timo Schultz, who has been a starter for FC St. Pauli since 2005-06 (when they were in the third division), ‘Our only chance is as a team‘.

Abseits [aka "offsides"] Guide to German football/Clubs/FC St, Pauli, {here}.

St. Pauli fans UK [with history of the skull-and-crossbones logo at FC St. Pauli].


Thanks to the contributors to the pages at and,
2. Football-Bundesliga;
2. Fussball-Bundesliga.
Thanks to Midfield Dynamo site, Clubs.
Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance figures, Germany attendances, 2009-10, at E-F-S.
Thanks to the official 1.FC Kaiserslautern site, for the old logos, .
Thanks to Maps Of,, for the base map.

July 15, 2010

France, the 3 clubs promoted from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1, for the 2010-11 season.

Filed under: Football Stadia,France — admin @ 5:33 pm


Ligue Un site.
The map shows the 3 clubs that won promotion from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1, for the 2010-11 season.
Yo-yo club Caen are back in the French top flight again, bouncing straight back after finishing in first in the second tier this season. Caen’s last spell in Ligue Un lasted two seasons (2007 to 2009). Next season will be the 12th the club has played in Ligue 1. Caen averaged 18,914 per game the last season they were in the top tier (in 2008-09), but averaged 5,700 per game less in Ligue 2 in 2009-10.

The club plays at the 21,000-capacity Stade Michel d’Ornano. From some of the photos on the map page, you can see that Caen has a pretty decent ground for a municipal stadium (ie, good sight-lines; seats with backs; and no stupid, ugly and useless running track ruining it). Stade Michel d’Ornano (

Stade Malherbe Caen Calvados Basse Normandie (their official name) are from the city of Caen, which is in the north of France in Normandy, 15 km. (9 miles) from the English Channel. Caen is the capital of the Basse-Normandie region, and has a population of around 110,000 {2006 figure}, which makes it the 21st-largest city in France. The Malherbe in the club’s full name is a reference to the secondary school and cultural center called the Lycée Malherbe, which was founded in 1432. This school was originally called the Université de Caen, and in the late 1800s was re-named in honor of 16th and 17th century poet François de Malherbe, who was from Caen. The Calvados part of Caen’s name is a reference to the department {Calvados}, that Caen are from. Caen were founded in 1912, but have only been a professional club since 1985.

Second place in Ligue Deux in 2009-10 were Brest, who return to the first division after a 19-year absence, which began when the club were administratively relegated following the 1990-91 Ligue 1 season, for excessive debts. Stade Brestois are from the city of Brest, which is at the far western edge of France, on the Breton peninsula in Brittany. All those seasons in the wilderness of the third division has left Brest without a sizable fan base, as shown by the home ground, Stade Francis-le Blê, which has a capacity of just 10,228. Brest were still stuck in the third division earlier this decade, and in their first season back in the second tier, in 2004-05, Brest drew 7,330 per game. But their attendance settled into the high-5,000s to mid 6,000s per game in the 3 seasons of 2005-06 to 2007-08.
In 08/09, Brest saw a 10% increase at the turnstiles, in spite of a 14 place finish, and last season, they drew 7,009 per game.

The city of Brest is the 18th-largest in France, with around 140,000 {2004 estimate}, while the Brest metropolitan area population is around 303,000.

The third club to win promotion are Arles-Avignon, who will be making their top-flight debut in 2010-11. Arles-Avignon have now won 3 promotions in 4 years, including back-to-back promotions these last two seasons. Two years before that, the club were in the fourth division, the regionalized Championnat de France Amateur. In 2008-09, Athlétic-Club Arles were playing in the third division, the Championnat National, and drawing just 771 per game, at the 3,500 Stade Fernand Fournier in Arles. The club changed it’s name from AC Arles to AC Arles-Avignon in 2009, when they won promotion from the third tier, needed a larger ground, and moved from Arles to Avignon, which is 32 km. (20 miles) north of Arles. [Most media outlets in English speaking cyberspace still call them just Arles, but it looks like French media is sticking to Arles-Avignon.] Arles-Avignon now play at Parc des Sports in Avignon, which has a capacity of 9,430.

What makes Arles-Avignon’s promotion last May to Ligue 1 even more unlikely is that they were almost not allowed to play in Ligue 2 last season for irregularities in the club’s financial accounts. They had the decision reversed in July, 2009 following an appeal, then found themselves promoted to Ligue Un 10 months later.

Arles-Avignon drew 3,749 per game at their new home last season. Key to their promotion run was midfielder and playmaker André Ayew [who also excelled for Ghana in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa]. Sadly for the minnows from Avignon, Olympique Marseille management has indicated that Ayew’s loan spell at Arles-Avignon is over, so he’ll be playing for L’OM this season. Arles-Avignon have another problem…If you think the stadium at Brest is not really up to top flight caliber, just take a look at the forlorn, weed-strewn concrete municipal stadium that Arles-Avignon call home. The Parc des Sports holds just 9,430, and of course, it has an unsightly running track. I don’t think fans will be complaining of the venue’s shortcomings this coming season, as the novelty of top flight football in the region will be so great. But Arles-Avignon’s ground is not the sort of facility that can hope to sustain a top-flight club in western Europe.

Here is an article [translated], from Le, from 15th May, 2010, on Arles-Avignon’s promotion to Ligue 1… ‘Arles,Avignon [sic] enters Ligue 1′ .

On the map I have listed both Avignon and Arles. Arles has a population of around 52,000 {2007 figure}. Arles is the village where during part of 1898, visionary Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh lived, during part of the last, and probably most productive, period of his life. Avignon has a population of around 94,0000 {2006 figure}, and is the 44th largest city in France. For a 74-year period, The Papacy, then some discredited “anti-Popes”, set up shop in Avignon in the 15th century {see this, Avignon Papacy}.

Arles and Avignon are both in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Avignon is 86 km. (53 miles) north of Marseille.

Here is an excellent article by Chris Mayer at 6 Pointer blog, from 26 July, 2010, ‘The rise and imminent demise of AC Arles Avignon‘.
Thanks to Ligue 1 site, for attendance figures, Ligue Deux attendance figures for 2009-10 season, at

Note: there are errors in the en.wikipedia page on Arles-Avignon, so go to the French Wikipedia page on the club if you want to read about them [The errors are that it is said Arles-Avignon has won promotion 4 straight seasons (it is 2 straight promotions, and 3 promotions in 4 seasons - they were in the third division 2 seasons (2007-08 and 2008-09, not one season). They won promotion from the 3rd to the 2nd level in 2008-09, then they won promotion from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1 in 2009-10. Also, the capacity of their stadium has not been updated from the 7,000 figure it was before Arles-Avignon started playing there last year. Plus there is a lot more on the club at the French wiki page, which is an interesting read even if the translation is not so great {see below}]
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at and,
2010-11 Ligue 1.
Arles-Avignon page at [translated]

July 9, 2010

Ukraine: Ukrainian Premier League, 2010-11 season

Filed under: Ukraine — admin @ 10:27 am


Ukraine is currently ranked #7 by UEFA for leagues in Europe {see this, UEFA League coefficient}.
The 20th season of the Ukrainian Premier League begins the weekend of 9th to 11th July, 2010. Ukrainiian Premier League results, fixtures, table, at, {here}.
Reigning champions are Shakhar Donetsk, who begin their first full season with their giant new futuristic stadium.
Ukrainian Cup holders are the surprise club Tavriya Simferopol. Tavriya was aided by a quarterfinal draw which pitted Ukraine’s Big 2 (Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk). Shakhtar went on to win that match, but lost in the semifinals to overachieving cross-city rivals Metalurh Donetsk. In the final on 16th May, 2010, in Kharkiv’s Metalist Stadium before 21,000, Tavriya Simferopol beat Metalurh Donetsk 3-2 in AET, with the winning goal by Nigerian striker Lucky Idahor in the 97th minute.
Just how unlikely Tavriya’s successful Cup run was can be seen in the results of the 2010 Ukrainian Super Cup played last weekend…Shakhtar demolished Tavriya 7-1.

Tavriya Simferopol are from Simferopol, which is the capital of Crimea, and has a population of around 340,000 {2006 figure}. Crimea, the southern-most region of Ukraine, is an autonomous republic within the nation of Ukraine. Historically part of the Russian empire since the 18th century, the Crimean peninsula was “given” to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 in a moment of hubris by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The powers that be in the Kremlin did this as an act of “brotherhood” towards Ukraine, never thinking that within 38 years, Ukraine would be independent. Especially since the Black Sea Fleet was, and still is, based in the Crimea. Ukraine has been leasing the ports to the Russians, and a partition of the fleet has been planned, but earlier this year Ukrainian President Yanukovitch has given the Russian navy in Crimea permission to stay until 2042. This has caused an uproar in Ukraine, with opposition leaders insisting Yanukovitch has violated the constitution. The justification Yanukovitch has for this lease extension is that that the new agreement provides for Russia to sell it’s natural gas to Ukraine at a significantly reduced price (about 33% lower), thus helping to end the natural gas crisis that has plagued Ukraine. But many see this as the first step in Russia’s goal to carve up Ukraine and re-take lands which hard-line pro-Russian nationalists feel belong to Russia. It must be pointed out that since Turkey joined NATO in 1955, thus putting NATO and hence the West in control of the vital Bosporus Strait, the Black Sea Fleet’s strategic importance has been diminished. But this is an issue of national sovereignity, and Yanukovitch’s pro-Moscow leanings have gone too far in the eyes of many Ukrainians, {see this article from, from 28 April 2010, by Maria Starozhitskaya, ‘Russia’s fleet in Crimea: what’s the real deal?}

The warm climate of the Crimean peninsula has made it the vacation spot of Russians for generations now, and it’s heavy Russian presence remains, despite the fact that the sky blue and yellow flag of Ukraine flies there. Adding to that mix in the Crimea in recent years are scores of Tatars (ethnic Turks), over 250,000 of whom have been repatriated to the Crimea following the demise of the Soviet Union {see this ‘Crimean Tatars after Ukrainian independance’, from}.
The map and chart shows the 16 clubs in the 2010-11 Ukrainian Premier League season. At the top of the map page, club crests are shown, sized to reflect 2009-10 domestic league average attendances. Attendance was up 18.1% last season in the Ukrainian Premier League. Here are the clubs with attendance increases in 2009-10 compared to 2008-09…
Shakhtar Donetsk: +11,934 per game (27,321 per game in 2009-10).
Metalist Kharkiv: +11,220 per game (26,300 per game in 2009-10).
Karpaty Lviv: + 4,061 per game (14,138 per game in 2009-10).
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk: +3,839 per game (15,767 per game in 2009-10).
Obolon Kyiv: +3,029 per game (4,267 per game in 2009-10).
Tavriya Simferopol: +2,444 (7,917 per game in 2009-10).
Dynamo Kyiv: +2,087 per game (9,794 per game in 2009-10).
Arsenal Kyiv: +836 per game (2,326 per game in 2009-10).

Overall, the Ukrainian Premier League increased it’s average attendances +1,369 per game (to 8,943 per game in 2009-10, versus 7,574 per game in 2008-09).

Attendances will probably increase again, with enthusiasm for the 2012 Euro competition which will be co-hosted with Poland, plus the interest in Shahktar’s new stadium, plus the fact that one of the two promoted clubs is a club that led the second division in attendance last season, Volyn Lutsk. The other promoted club will not help increase attendances overall, because the club plays in a 3,500 venue…that is Ukrainian Premier League newcomers PFC Sevastopol, who hail from Sevastopol, on the south-western tip of the Crimean peninsula. Sevastopol was formerly the home of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, and is now home to a Ukrainian naval base and facilities leased by the Russian Navy and used as the headquarters of both the Ukrainian Naval Forces and the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Sevastopol has a population of around 379,000 {2007 figure}.

PFC Sevastopol are less than a decade old, and the crumbling little stadium they call home sits in stark contrast to the opulent facilities that Shakhtar Donetsk now play in…
The Haves and the Have-nots, Ukrainian version…

When looking at the issues facing pro football these days, competitive imbalance is at the top of the list, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more glaring example of the all-too-prevalent problem of the haves and the have-nots than in Ukraine. The Big 2 of Ukraine, Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk, have won 18 of the 19 Ukrainian titles, with the exception being Tavriya Simferopol winning the first, hastily assembled season (which was basically a half-season that took place in 1992, less than a year after the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Soviet Top League). After that first truncated season, Dynamo Kyiv won 9 straight titles (from 1993 to 2001). Shakhtar Donetsk began their rise to the top when billionaire oligarch Rinat Akhmetov took over ownership of the club in 1996. At that point in time, Shakhtar was considered just a Cup specialist club, with 4 Soviet Cups and then 2 Ukrainian Cups in their trophy cabinet. Shakhtar finally won the league title in 2002, and since then, the club from the heavily industrialized Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has turned the Ukrainian Premier League into a 2-team race. The odd thing with Ukraine is that one of the Big 2, Dynamo Kyiv, does not draw well at all for it’s domestic matches, pulling in less than 10,000 per game…the jaded Dynamo Kyiv fan base only really shows up in force for UEFA Champions League matches. Dynamo Kyiv averaged 22,589 for their 3 CL Group Stage home matches last season, but only 9,794 per game for league games.

A hopeful sign of perhaps an erosion of the Big 2′s stranglehold on the Ukrainian game can be seen in the remarkable growth of the Metalist Kharkiv fan base. Metalist has finished in 3rd place for three straight seasons, and this club from Ukraine’s second-largest city draws well over 20,000 per game these days. When Metalist Kharkiv won promotion back to the top flight in 2004, they were drawing around 8,000 per game. Last season they drew 26,300 per game. Metalist Kharkiv’s coach, the Lviv-born Myron Markevych, now has two jobs, as he was appointed coach of the re-building Ukraine national football team earlier this year. For the sake of the future of Ukrainian football, I hope Myron Markevych can juggle the two roles effectively.
List of largest cities in Ukraine, Cities in Ukraine (by population) {}.
Here is an article from The Global site, on Karpaty Lviv’s surprise win in the 1969 Soviet Cup final. Karparty Lviv were the only second division club to ever win the Soviet Cup…’Ukrainian will, Carpathian pride and the summer of ’69‘, by Igor Khrestin (21 August, 2009).
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, Uktainian Premier League.
Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance figures,
Thanks to PFC Sevastopol official site, for the photo, Thanks to Metalist Kharkiv official site, Metalist Stadium photos.

July 5, 2010

Norway: 2010 Norwegian Premier League (aka Tippeligaen), the 16 clubs, with 2009 attendance figures, and all-time list of Norwegian football league champions.

Filed under: Norway — admin @ 4:37 am


Norway 2010 first division location-map with titles & crowds sizes listed

The official name of the Norwegian Premier League is Tippeligaen, for sponsorship reasons. The 66th season of top flight football in Norway began the weekend of 14th March 2010. After 14 rounds, the season went on hiatus in early June (for the 2010 World Cup), and the league was re-started the weekend of 3-4 July. So at the exact half-way point in the season, Norwegian giants Rosenborg (of Trondheim in north-central Norway) sit at the top of the table, 3 points above Tromso (a club that is located north of the Arctic Circle) and 5 points above Valerenga (of Oslo).

On the main map and chart page there are 2 lists…at the lower left, I have listed all the clubs in Norway that drew over 1,000 per game last season…this ended up being all 16 clubs in the 2009 Norwegian Premier League and 9 clubs in the 2009 second tier, which is the Norwegian First Division.
And at the top left, there is the all-time list of Norwegian league champions. An unusual feature of football in Norway is that the Norwegian champion is, officially, the national cup-winner, not the national-league winner, the way it is most everywhere else. [It might be that way officially, but the winner of the Norwegian Cup does not get a chance to play in the UEFA Champions League, like the Norwegian league winner does, so who's kidding who...]. [The Norwegian Football Cup is not being covered here.]

The Norwegian Premier League (aka Tippeligaen) is currently the 22nd-highest-ranked by UEFA for European competitions {see this, from Bert Kassiesa’s site}. [Update: in 2015 Norway had dropped 4 places to #26 rank in Europe, see this.]

Nprway’s 1st division average attendance was the 15th highest in Europe (even higher than the Portuguese Liga), and was the 22nd-highest drawing association football league in the entire world, but it has probably dropped a couple notches, because that list was for around a year or so ago, and the Norwegian Premier League has seen a dip in cumulative average attendance from 10,485 per game in 2007, to 8,956 per game in 2009. [source: The Best'World Soccer Average Attendance List'].

In 1937-38, the Norgesserien , or League of Norway, began play. Two seasons later, the league was forced to shut down for what turned out to be 8 seasons, due to the German invasion and onset of World War II and then its aftermath.

One season after resuming play, the league was renamed the Hovedserien , or Main League, from 1948 to 1962. Then the Norwegian top flight used the name 1.divisjon from 1963 to 1990. The current name of Tippeligaen was instituted in 1991. [The word Tippe refers to the league's sponsor, Norsk Tipping, which is the national lottery of Norway.]

Below, the Lerkendal Stadion, home of Rosenborg BK, of Trondheim, Norway…

The most successful club in Norway are current reigning league champions Rosenborg BK, who have won 21 Norwegian league titles, including 18 of the last 22 titles (and were champions 13 straight seasons from 1992 to 2004). One could call them the Bayern Munich of Norway, seeing as how Rosenborg, like Germany’s Bayern Munich, has the lion’s share of league titles in their country, but both clubs did not become the dominant club in their nation until recent times. Rosenborg are from the north-central city of Trondheim, which has a population of around 171,000 {2010 estimate}), making it the fourth-largest urban area in Norway. Trondheim is a center of education and of technical and medical research. Rosenborg Ballklub has the nickname of Troillongan, or “the Troll Kids”.

Rosenborg BK have had the best average attendance for 11 of the past 12 seasons, and drew 17,652 per game last season to their ground, the Lerkendal Stadion, which has a capacity of 21,620. This stadium was bought from the city and completely rebuilt circa 2000-02, using funds earned from the club’s then-annual UEFA Champions League appearances. Rosenborg made it to the promised land of the Champions League Group Stage 11 times in 12 seasons from 1995 to 2006 [in case you are wondering...yes Rosenborg actually progressed out of the CL Group Stage, twice, in fact, in 1996-97 and in 1999-2000]. Rosenborg has recently seen the return of Nils Arne Eggen, the most successful club manager in Norwegian history. Eggen returns for his 7th stint as manager of Rosenborg, which included the golden age of Rosenborg (circa 1988-2002).

The Lerkendal is the second biggest football stadium in Norway, only smaller than the 25,572-capacity Ullevaal Stadion, which is the national football stadium, in Norway’s largest and capital city, Oslo (city population of around 590,000, and a metropolitan area population of around 1.4 million {2010 estimate}). The Ulevaal Stadion is also home to the only Oslo-based club currently in the Norwegian top flight, Valerenga Fotball. Valerenga were the club that broke the 13-year stranglehold that Rosenborg had on the championship, when they took the crown in 2004. This was Valerenga’s 5th title. Valerenga draw around 10,000 per game. The club has plans to build their own stadiium in Oslo. A notable ex-player is Aston Villa FW John Carew, who began his pro career with Valerenga.
Ullevaal Stadion, home of Valerenga and also home of the Norway national team…
SK Brann are the second-best drawing club in Norway. Brann drew 15,931 per game in 2009. Brann come from the western Norway port city of Bergen, which is the second largest city in Norway (with a city population of around 255,00, and a metro-area population of around 382,000 {2010 estimate}), and is Norway’s main port and the center of the country’s maritime industry as well as the hub of Norway’s sizable oil and natural gas industries. Like Valerenga, Brann also have won a recent Norwegian premier League title, in 2007. This was Brann’s 3rd Norwegian league title. Brann Stadion holds a little over 17,000, and these days it’s usually close to being filled. Incidentally, though the structure looks pretty new and up-to-date (as you can see in the photo below), Brann Stadion was opened in 1919.
The other club to have won a recent league title are the Greater Oslo-based Stabaek Fotball, who are from the suburban municipality of Fornebu, which borders the western edge of Oslo. Although the club has been around since 1912, Stabaek finally won their first league title in 2008. Stabaek play in an unusual ground…a 15,600 indoor arena (with, ugh, artificial turf) called the Telenor Arena.

Speaking of the dreaded artificial turf, this season in Norway, 7 of the 16 first division clubs play on artificial turf…Aalesunds FK, Honefoss BK, Kongsvinger, Odd Grenland, Stabaek Fotbal, Stromgodset IF, and Tromso IL. Tromso IL are the northernmost first-division football club in the world, and are from Tromso (population, 64,000), which is located within the Arctic Circle. I don’t think grass really grows too well up there, and playing on a bed of moss and lichen is not really practical, so one cannot really fault Tromso for playing on a plastic-turfed pitch.
One other club in the Norwegian first division that needs mentioning because of their past success and consistent ability to draw crowds, and that’s Viking FK,of Stavanger, which is part of the third largest urban area in Norway (Stavanger/Sandnes metro area population, 297,000 {2010 estimate}). Viking was founded way back in 1889 but did not become a force in Norwegian football until the late 1950s, winning their first league title in 1958. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Viking were the dominant club in the country, winning 6 league titles in 11 years. Their last league title was won in 1991, and in the last decade Viking have not finished higher than 3rd (on three occasions). But Viking continue to draw well, and have been the third-highest drawing club in Norway for three years running. Viking averaged 13,071 per game in 2009, and the last time they threatened for the title, in 2007, they drew just over 17,000.
Viking Stadion…

One other point about the Norwegian Premier League. All three of the clubs relegated last year are venerable clubs…Fredrikstad FK, FK Bodo/Glimt, and FK Lyn Oslo. Fredrikstad were the original dominant club in the Norwegian top tier, winning 6 of the first 9 league titles. Fredrikstad’s 9 league titles makes them the second-most successful club in Norway, but their last league title was in 1960-61. Fredrikstad FK are from Fredrikstad, which is on the south-east side of the Ostdjord (it’s shown on the Greater Oslo/Oslofjord map segment on the main map page). Fredrikstad averaged 10,289 per game last season, so their relegation will put a dent in the 2010 Norwegian Premier League average attendance. This is especially true because the three just-promoted clubs…FK Haugesund, Honefoss BK, and Kongsvinger IL Topfotball, are all low-drawing minnows who averaged below 3,000 per game in the second tier last season.

Thanks to World Soccer magazine, for news of the Norwegian football scene, World Soccer.
Thanks to the E-F-S site, for attendance figures, E-F-S attendances.
Thanks to Football, and contributor Tromsoe, for Valeranga v. Lyn info,
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at ’2010 Norwegian Premier League’.
Thanks to Tom Dunmore at Pitch Invasion site, for posting this map earlier this year,

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