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August 26, 2011

Netherlands: 2011-12 Eredivisie, attendance map (with 2010-11 attendance data).

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,Netherlands — admin @ 8:20 pm

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Dutch top flight – 2011-12 season, with 2010-11 attendance data


Eredivise – Results, Fixtures, Table (Soccerway.com).

The Dutch first division is called the Eredivisie. On the map page, you can see the locations of the 18 clubs in the 2011-12 Eredivisie. Attendance data from last season (home league matches) can be found to the right of the map.

This season, the 56th season of the competition, began on the weekend of 6th August. Reigning champions are the Dutch giants Ajax, of Amsterdam, who have now won 30 national titles in the Netherlands including 8 titles which preceded the formation of Eredivisie, and the first Eredivisie title in 1956-57. But before last season, Ajax had not won a title in 7 years. And midway through the 2010-11 Eredivisie season, it looked like that title drought would continue, after Ajax lost their manager (Martin Jol, who resigned in early December because the squad was playing so poorly). Then Ajax lost their leading scorer, the talismanic striker Luis Suarez (who was sold to Liverpool in January). Then they lost their star goalkeeper to injury (Maarten Skekelenberg, who has since moved to Roma). But the squad came together under the leadership of Frank De Boer, and meanwhile Twente and PSV dropped points in the run-up. So Ajax’s fine form in the deciding weeks led to a final dual-match showdown versus Twente – first in the KNVB [Dutch] Cup, and then on the final day of the Eredivisie season. Although Ajax lost the Dutch Cup final to Twente (by a score of 3-2 in aet), a week later they showed up for the more important of the two matches, and handily disposed of Twente 3-1, to claim the title, with Siem de Jong scoring a brace. Frank De Boer is now, along with Rinus Michels and Ronald Koeman, one of the 3 players to have won a title as a player and a manager of Ajax.

It wasn’t just player attrition and a managerial change that the Ajax squad had to contend with last season – there was also a very public turf war within the Ajax top brass. Suffice to say that the 800 pound gorilla in the room, Johan Cruyff, is back with the leadership of the club now, after a half-decade-long turmoil within the Ajax board, so it looks like it will be bright days ahead for Ajax, what with the spiritual father of total football guiding the club and its player development system, {see this, from WorldOfAjax.wordpress.com, from 31 March 2011, ‘A free way for Johan Cruyff(?)‘.}

In that 7-year span when Ajax went without a title, 2 clubs emerged with national championships, breaking the quarter-century-long domination of the Dutch game by the Big 3 – the triumvirate of Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord. Those 3 clubs had won every Dutch title from 1981-82 to 2007-08 (27 seasons). Then the small club from Noord Holland, AZ of Alkmaar, won the 2008-09 title after coming agonizingly close in the seasons before [AZ had won the 1980-81 title; their 08/09 title is their second Dutch title]. AZ [pronounced 'Ah-Zed'] recently re-built and expanded their stadium, but it still has a capacity of only 17,000. Alkmaar has a population of around just 90,000 {2007 figure}. Even people from down the road in the freak-friendly city of Amsterdam consider Alkmaar to be a pretty freaky place, what with it’s fully-sanctioned window prostitution in it’s red-light district. After AZ shook up the status-quo in Dutch football, another provincial club took the baton the following season, with FC Twente, of Enschede, winning the 2009-10 title, by one point ahead of Ajax…{see this from Guardian.co.uk, from 2 May 2010, by Louise Taylor, ‘Steve McClaren goes from zero to hero as FC Twente win Dutch title‘. Enschede has a population of around 156,000 {2009 figure}. It was FC Twente’s first Dutch title. Twente play in the 24,000-capacity De Grolsch Veste, and the club pretty much plays to capacity these days. [FC Twente's current stadium expansion saw a recent tragedy {see this, from Guardian.co.uk, from 8 July, 'Second death following collapse of FC Twente stadium roof'}.]

In fact, clubs playing to high, above-90-percent-capacities is a recurring theme in the Netherlands, as you can see by the chart on the map page. Over half of the clubs – eleven clubs in the current season of Eredivisie – filled their stadiums to an above-90%-capacity figure last season (and Ajax was just below that at 89.3 %-capacity). But notably, only one of the Big 3 did – PSV, of Eindhoven, who are, like Wolfsburg in Germany (Volkswagen) and Sochaux in France (Puegot), a club that is bankrolled by a large multinational that makes durable goods. In PSV’s case, it is the electronics manufacturer Philips that has put the club on the map. PSV are the most successful club in the Netherlands in the last decade or so, having won 7 titles since 1999-2000, but their last title was 3 seasons ago in 2007-08. PSV play at the 35,000-capacity Philips Stadion. Philips Stadion is a pretty nice ground (with state-of-the-art fully heated seating and hi-tech turf-maintenance features) that is, unlike many of the first-division grounds in the Netherlands, right by the city center. Eindhoven has a population of around 213,000 and a metro-area population of around 440,000 {2010 figures}. To round out the population figures of the cities of the Big 3 clubs, Amsterdam [Ajax], the largest city in the Netherlands, has a city population of 1.2 million and a metro-area population of around 2.15 million {2010 figures}; while Rotterdam [Feyenoord], Holland’s second city, has a city population of around 611,000 and a metro-area population of around 1.21 million {2010 figures}. Feyenoord is starting to become like the Dutch version of Liverpool, because they have not won a national title since 1998-99, and are in retrograde, and in fact were in the bottom-half of the table last season, with a 10th-place finish, which included a 10-0 loss to PSV. The reason for Feyenoord’s title-drought and drastic drop in form is financially-based. However, Feyenoord might be out of contention these days, but the club can still pack them in, drawing 42,559 per game last season. Only Ajax draws better: they drew 47,316 per game to their 52,960-capacity Amsterdam Arena, which has a retractable roof and looks like it landed there from another planet. That’s par for the course in Dutch football, because in my opinion, this plucky little nation has created some pretty cool looking football grounds, as you can see in my previous post on the Eredivisie, {see this- ‘The Netherlands: 2009-10 Eredivisie, with 08/09 average attendances, and stadium photos‘}. Last season, the Eredivisie as a whole drew 19,296 per game. Notice that there are no running tracks in any of the top flight stadiums in the Netherlands. Thank goodness no one ever tried to combine an ice-skating oval and a football ground there.

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Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance data.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011–12 Eredivisie‘.
Thanks to Demis.nl for the base map, Demis Web Map Server.

August 21, 2011

Spain: the 3 promoted clubs from Segunda División to La Liga for the 2011-12 season.

Filed under: Spain — admin @ 2:58 pm

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The 3 promoted clubs in La Liga


La Liga players, and Segunda División players, have gone on strike – from Guardian.co.uk, from 19 Aug., by Sid Lowe, ‘Strike brings pain to Spain over players’ demand for emergency fund – La Liga faces prolonged shutdown while players’ union fights for a guarantee that protects all unpaid wages‘.

Some 200 players in La Liga and Segunda División are owed around 43 million Euros in back salary (!) {see this article, from the Rob Train blog at ESPN Soccernet, from 21 Aug., ‘Player strike delays La Liga season‘}.
[editor's note: the strike lasted just one week.]

Real Betis returns to La Liga after a 2-season spell back in the Segunda División. Betis had previously been in the second tier in 2000-01. Real Betis Balompié S.A.D were formed in 1907. The Seville club, with a fan base large enough to average around 38,000 per game in good seasons, has spent 46 seasons in the first division; the 2011-12 La Liga season, whenever it begins, will be Betis’ 47th season in the top flight. Seville, the 4th largest city in Spain, has a city population of around 704,000 and a metro-area population of around 1.5 million {2010 figures}. Real Betis won the 1934-35 La Liga season, for the club’s sole national title. That team was managed by the Irish international Patrick O’Connell. O’Connell had guided Betis out of the second division in 1932. Their 1935 championship came on the final day of the season, when they beat Santander and pipped Real Madrid by 1 point for the crown in the then-twelve-team-league. O’Connell left the next season to manage Barcelona. Betis have won 2 Copa del Rey – in 1977 and 2005. Betis’ 1977 cup win was over Athletic Bilbao, and needed 21 penalties and an 8-7 tally to decide the 2-2 match. Betis’ 2005 cup win saw them beat Osasuna 2-1 in aet. Betis play in the 52,000-capacity Estadio Benito Villamarín. [It is significant that while Betis play in stadium with a larger capacity than local rivals Sevilla FC (who play at the 48,500-capacity Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán), Sevilla have outdrawn Betis every season since 2002-03. Sevilla's highest crowds in the last decade were in 2006-07, when they drew 43,632 per game; while Betis' highest crowds in the last decade were also in 06/07, when they drew 38,737.] Betis averaged 31,095 per game last season, which is a huge figure for the Spanish second division, where often, no team draws over 20,000 per game, and where very few clubs can draw even 15,000 per game. Betis play in green-and-white vertically-striped jerseys – green and white are the colors of the flag of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia. Betis’ green is usually a lighter shade of green than the Andalusian flag, although this season [2011-12], Betis have an alternate kit that includes a jersey in a darker shade of green – see this from FootballFashion.org).

Rayo Vallecano are the self-styled left-wing football club of Madrid. Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, S.A.D. were formed in 1924. The team plays in white jerseys with a red sash. They play in the three-sided Estadio de Vallecas, which has a capacity of 15,500. The ground is in the working-class neighborhood of Vallecas, in the south-east of Madrid, 9 metro stops and 15 minutes south of the Sol station in the center of Madrid [Madrid has a city population of around 3.2 million and a metro-area population of around 6.4 million {2010 figures}]. Rayo Vallecano have spent 11 seasons in La Liga; 2011-12 will be the club’s 12th season in the top flight. Their last spell in the top tier was a 4-season stint from 1999-2000 to 2002-03 that included the club’s best-ever finish (of 9th place in 1999-2000), and a UEFA Cup run that saw them reach the 2000-01 UEFA Cup quarterfinals (going out to the Basque side Deportivo Alavés). Rayo Vallecano’s relegation in 2003 was just the start of their troubles, and another relegation in 2004-05 saw Rayo Vallecano stuck in the third division, in Segunda División B. Rayo returned to the second division in 2008. The club had financial problems for years, but the situation got worse when, during Rayo Vallecano’s promotion-run last season, the squad was only sporadically being paid – like, circa March 2011, only twice in the past 9 months. [Note - this is an example of the main reason why players in Spain in the top two divisions have gone on strike.] The owner, Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos, had previous as a tax cheat and spent time in prison for that a few years earlier. He’s the sort of businessman that did quite well when Franco was in power, and supported the status quo back then. His politics are lovely, too, with him giving lavishly to the creepy far right-wing Opus Dei organization. [What a great businessman this guy is...he's a right winger who buys the most left-wing football club in the country. That's a like an Israeli consortium buying a hog farm.] By early in 2011, his holding company was in financial crisis, and for pretty much all season long, the players were not being paid. In March, Ruiz Matos’ wife, Maria Teresa Rivero, who was the figurehead at the top of the club, accused the players of not trying, after a 4-1 loss to a basement club. That’s some pretty twisted moral values right there – criticizing the commitment of your players whom you have been failing to pay. Next thing you know there’s fan demonstrations outside the owners’ domicile, and even player protests prior to match kick-offs. {See this article, from When Saturday Comes site, from 4 March 2011, by Huw Richards, ‘Rayo Vallecano held back by their owners‘.} Well, the good news is that that owner and his charming wife, after 20 years, are now gone. The new owner is a local businessman, Raúl Martín, age 36, who made his money in the printing industry. The bad news is that Rayo Vallecano are now in administration. Being in administration in Spain is not necessarily as onerous as it is in England, because there are never any points deductions that accompany going-into-administration, like in England. However, with administrators now trying to force a 70%-pay-cut on the players, it looks like even more players are set to walk. From the FiveInMidfield.com site, from 19 June 2011, ‘Rayo Vallecano reach La Liga after tumultuous period of absence‘.

Granada CF wouldn’t be back in La Liga after a 35-year spell in the lower leagues without the support of Serie A club Udinese. 12 players on loan from Udinese contributed to Granada’s second-straight promotion in 2010-11, and several of those Udinese loanees were starters for Granada. In fact, a Udinese loan player, the Nigerian FW Odion Ighalo, was responsible for the goal that got Granada promoted, in the play-off finals versus Elche. And the fourth-highest scorer in Segunda División last season, the Swiss-born/ethnic Spaniard Alexandre Geijo (who netted 24 times last season), was and still is also on loan from Udinese to Granada. All this was the result of Granada president Quique Pina, who was a player agent in Italy and whose previous job was with Udinese Calcio. Udinese have a rather small fan base that produces crowds of only around 17,000 per game, and this club from the north-east of Italy survives in the Italian top flight by eventually selling off a good portion of the talent they develop. So it’s a win-win situation that circumvents the no-promotions-allowed-for-B-teams rule, by Udinese essentially having their B team in another country. Udinese have also given financial support to Granada. Granada CF are from Granada, in the south of Spain in Andalusia, about 50 km. (30 miles) from the coast, and 212 km. (132 miles) east of Seville. The city of Granada has a population of around 237,000 {2007 figure}. Granada is at the confluence of 3 rivers at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. The city of Granada is 738 meters (2,421 feet) above sea level. The Moorish palace and fortress and present-day museum and tourist-mecca the Alhambra, built in the 14th Century, is in Granada. Granada CF plays at the smart and compact, small-yet-still-three-tiered Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes, which has a capacity of 22,890 (but the stadium had been restricted to a 16,212 capacity while Granada was in the lower divisions). Granada drew 14,143 per game last season. Granada CF has a distinctive, narrow, shield-shaped crest in red and white, with angular and stylized G-C-F initials; and the team plays in red-and-white hooped jerseys and blue pants. Granada have spent 17 seasons in La Liga, and when the 2011-12 La Liga season gets underway, it will be Granada’s 18th season in the top flight. Granada Club de Fútbol were formed somewhat later than the bulk of top-division clubs in Spain, in 1931. It only took the club a decade to make it to the top flight – Granada made it’s first division debut in 1941-42. Granada’s most successful era was in the 1970s, with 8 seasons in La Liga then, including two 6th-place-finishes – in 1971-72 and 1973-74, which are Granada’s highest finishes.

Photo credits -
Rayo Vallecano…Aerial image of stadium [formely called Estadio Teresa Rivero] now called Estadio de Vallecas from bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here. 4 interior photos of Estadio de Vallecas from DiarosDeFutbol.com, ‘Vuestros estadios: Estadio Teresa River (Vallecas, Madrid)‘.

Real Betis…Aerial photo of stadium [formerly called Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera] now called Estadio Benito Villamarín] by PrishtinaLund at Flickr.com, here. Exterior photo of stadium with houses in the foreground by nosbigdivad at Flickr.com, here. Exterior photo of stadium by Gregory Zeier at en.wikipedia.org, here. Interior photo ofstadium by hombre at WprldFootball.net, here.

Granada…Aerial image of Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here. Panoramic image of Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes from ImageShack.us, here. Photo during a match at Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes by Lanadahlauts at Flickr.com, here.

Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendances.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011-12 La Liga‘.
Thanks to Demis.nl for the base map of Spain, Demis Web Map Server.

August 16, 2011

Italy: the 3 clubs promoted from Serie B to Serie A, for the 2011-12 season / Plus, Italian Baseball League – location map of the 8-team league, with Scudetto and Coppa Italia [Baseball] titles of each club.

Filed under: Italy,Italy: Baseball — admin @ 10:01 pm

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The 3 promoted clubs in Serie A


From wsc.co.uk, on 1 Aug. 2011, by Geoff Bradford, ‘Italy’s match-fixing investigation will run and run‘.
Note: as the above articles points out, most observers of the Italian game don’t think the implicated club Atalanta will get relegated back down to Serie B as punishment for their part in the betting and match fixing scandal from last season (which took place mostly in Serie B and Serie C). Atalanta will probably get a points deduction for this season.

Two of the 3 clubs promoted from Serie B in June will be immediately returning to the Italian top flight – Atalanta and AC Siena. The other promoted club, Novara, has not been in the first division since 1956.

Atalanta are from Bergamo, which is in the Region of Lombardy, 45 km. (29 miles) north-east of Milan. Bergamo has a population of around 120,000 {2010 figure}. Such close proximity to Milan and the 2 Milanese footballing giants (Milan and Internazionale) has certainly prevented Atalanta from building a larger fan base. Atalanta drew 18, 737 per game last season, but that number is much higher than recent attendance figures because the club had slashed ticket prices following relegation from Serie A in 2009-10, and that helped increase the crowds. In fact, Atalanta was drawing in the 12,000 per game range in their last 2 seasons in Serie A (08/09 and 09/10). Atalanta have played 50 seasons in Serie A, the 2011-12 Serie A season will be their 51st. The club has no national titles, but Atalanta did win the 1963 Coppa Italia title, defeating Torino 3-1. Their highest finish in Serie A was in 1947-48, when they finished 5th (in the first Serie A season following World War II). The club was formed in 1907, and played with black and white vertically-striped jerseys. The club took their name from the character in Greek mythology named Atalanta, who was a female athlete. In 1924 a merger between Atalanta and Bergamasca created Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio S.p.A. Bergamasca had played in blue jerseys, so the new club began wearing black and blue vertically-striped jerseys. Atalanta joined the Italian league system in 1929, and first reached Serie A in 1937-38, but were relegated back to Serie B immediately. Their next spell in the top flight was much longer, a 16-season spell from 1940-41 to 1958-59. They won promotion back to Serie A one season later, for the 1960-61 season, and this time Atalanta stayed in the top tier for a decade, before relegation in 1972-73. After that, Atalanta morphed into a yo-yo club. Promoted in 1977/relegated back to Serie B two seasons later in 1979. Promoted in 1985/relegated two seasons later in 1987. Promoted in 1988/relegated six seasons later in 1994. Promoted in 1995/relegated three seasons later in 1998. Promoted in 2000/relegated three seasons later in 2003. Promoted in 2004/relegated one season later in 2005. Promoted in 2006/relegated four seasons later in 2010. Atalanta plays in the 24,642-capacity Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia.

AC Siena are from Siena, in the region of Tuscany. The city of Siena has a long history and a prominence and is quite a tourist magnet. But it is a tiny city – Siena’s population is only around 54,000 {2010 figure}. AC Siena drew 7,281 per game last season, and drew between 8 and 11,000 per game when they were in the top flight (for the first time) for a 7-season spell from 2003-04 to 2009-10. Società Sportiva Robur was formed in 1904. In 1933, the club’s name was changed to Associazione Calcio Siena SpA. The club still maintains the odd Robur reference in their crest, and around town the football team is called Robur to differentiate them from the club’s basketball team. Siena never managed to reach the second division, let alone the first division, in the nineteen-hundreds, and were finally promoted to Serie B in 2000. Siena then won promotion to Serie A three seasons later, in 2003. The club has played 7 seasons in the Italian top flight, never reaching higher than 13th place (which they did in 03/04 and in 08/09). 2011-12 will be Siena’s 8th season in Serie A. Siena have a loose affiliation with Juventus in that Juve often loans out players to Siena for experience, and the two clubs co-own some players (which is a common practice in Italy). Siena play at the Stadio Artemio Franchi – Montepaschi Arena, which has a capacity of just 15,373. A recent renovation got rid of the running track behind one goal. Further renovations are not planned, because in March 2011, Siena announced plans for a new stadium, to be built just south of the city, {see this article, with architect’s renderings, ‘Siena’s new stadium will be below ground level‘, from the brilliant Dirty Tackle site}.

Novara are from Novara, in the Region of Piedmont, 44 km. (27 miles) west of MIlan, and 88 km. (55 miles) north-east of Turin. Novara has a population of around 105,000 {2010 figure}. Because the club is from that historical region, Novara wear jerseys in the shade of blue (a grayish light royal blue) of the nation-of-Italy’s-founder-ruling-entity, the House of Savoy {as does the Italian national football team, see this ‘Why do Italian national sporting teams play in blue colours?‘, from Guardian.co.uk}. Novara has now won back-to-back promotions. Novara drew drew 2,241 per game in Serie C in 2009-10, and 5,449 per game in Serie B in 2010-11 . [I couldn't find attendance figures for Novara's last season in Serie A, 56 years ago.] Novara Calcio S.p.A were formed in 1908, and made their debut in the Italian league system in 1912. The club comes from the area in the eastern part of the Piedmont that was home to a very successful club in the early days of Italian football – Pro Vercelli, who won 7 Italian titles, their last in 1922, but are now a third division club [Novara is 22 km/14 mi. NE of Vercelli]. Novara first won promotion to Serie A in 1936, but went straight back down. Their next spell in the top flight lasted 3 seasons, from 1938-39 to 1940-41. Novara’s third spell in the top tier lasted 8 seasons, from 1948-49 to 1955-56, and included the club’s highest placement, at 8th place in 1951-52. It was during this era that Silvio Piola played for Novara. Piola racked up over 300 goals for Novara, and their stadium is named after him. Novara have spent much of their last 50 years in Serie C and Serie C2 [which are the third and fourth divisions, and now (since 2008) have the name of Legia Pro Prima Divisione and Legia Pro Seconda Divisione]. After 33 years below the second division, Novara won promotion back to Serie B in 2009-10. They finished in 3rd place in Serie B in 2010-11, and entered the promotion play-offs. In the first round, their 2-2 aggregate versus Reggina was good enough for them to advance, because in Italy, an aggregate tie in this case is not decided by away goals or overtime but by league finish, and Novara finished higher than Reggina. In the finals, Novara defeated Padova 2-0 in aggregate. On the map page you can see the Novara players celebrating their promotion with a victory lap around their Stadio Silvio Piola, which has a capacity of only 10,106. This season will be Novara’s 13th season in Serie A.

By the way, that baseball park next to Novara’s stadium (as seen in the satellite image on the map page) is the home of Italian Baseball League ball club Novara United. Novara United are a new member of the IBL {see this from BaseballItalia.com site from Feb.2011, here}. The Italian Baseball League is an 8-team league that was formed in 1948 {‘Italian Baseball League‘, page at en.wikipedia.org.}

So here is a map of the 2011 Italian Baseball League -
Click on the image below for map of Italian Baseball League 2011 season…
italian-baseball-league2011_ball-clubs_w-titles_segment_b.gif

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Photo credits -
Atalanta… Photo of roofed stand at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia from fussballtempel.net. Interior photo of Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia by albe at Panoramio.com, here. Aerial photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, here [and from a source that included a tag of 'Skypictures', which was from a site I could not find following a Google search]. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Novara…Photo of Novara players taking victory lap after winning the promotion play-off two-legged final versus Padova, on 12 June 2011, from AP/La Presse via CalcioPro.com, here. Photo of Stadio Silvio Piola at dusk from PESstatsdatabase.com, here. Photo of Stadio Silvio Piola main stand by aldo.maccone at Panoramio.com, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Siena…Photo of Photo of Stadio Artemio Franch in sunlight from SienaFree.it, here. Photo of new curva stand at Stadio Artemio Franch by Amras Carnesîr at pt.wikipedia.org, here. Stadio Artemio Franchi with running track in foreground by magro_kr at Flickr.com, here. Aerial image of Stadio Artemio Franchi from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to E-F-S site for attendance figures.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en and it.wikipedia.org, ’2011-12 Serie A‘.

August 11, 2011

Premier League, Attendance map for clubs in 2011-12 season.

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Premier League attendance map


Premier League – Results, fixtures, tables (Soccerway.com).

Here are all the clubs in the 2011-12 Premier League that had percent-capacities last season of above 90 percent-capcity (with average attendance from 2010-11 home league matches). [ Percent Capacity is arrived at this way...Average Attendance divided by Stadium Capacity equals Percent-Capacity. ] Also listed are each club’s average attendance last season, change from 2009-10, and how the club finished in 2010-11.
99.4%-capacity – Arsenal. Attendance (60,025 per game) was up +0.2 percent last season. 4th place finish/CL play-off spot.
99.1%-capacity – Manchester United. Attendance (75,109 per game) was up +0.3 percent last season. 2011-12 Premier League champions/Qualified for CL Group Stage.
98.6%-capacity – Tottenham Hotspur. Attendance (35,704 per game) was down -0.3 percent. 5th place finish/Europa League play-off spot.
98.3%-capacity – Fulham. Attendance (25.043 per game) was up +4.7 percent. 8th place finish/Europa League 1st qualifying round (via a Fair Play spot).
97.66%-capacity – Stoke City. Attendance (26,858 per game) was down -1.1 percent. 13th place/Europa League 3rd qualifying round (via FA Cup [finalist] spot).
97.61%-capacity – Chelsea. Attendance (41,435 per game) was up +0.3 percent last season. 2nd place finish/Qualified for CL Group Stage.
97.57%-capacity – Norwich City. Attendance (25,386 per game) was up +2.9 percent. 2nd place in 2nd Level/Promoted.
96.8%-capacity – Manchester City. Attendance (45,905 per game) was up +0.9 percent. 3rd place finish/FA Cup title/Qualified for CL Group Stage.
95.3%-capacity – Wolves. Attendance (27,925 per game) was down -1.6 percent. 17th place finish.
94.6%-capacity – Liverpool. Attendance (42,820 per game) was down -0.1 percent. 6th place finish.
93.1%-capacity – West Bromwich. Attendance (24,683 per game) was up +11.2 percent. 11th place finish.
91.2%-capacity – Newcastle United. Attendance was up +10.0 percent. 12th place finish.
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Thanks to E-F-S site for attendance data.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011-12 Premier League‘.

August 5, 2011

English Football League Championship – attendance map and data for clubs in the 2011-12 League Championship season.

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League Championship attendance map



2011-12 Football League Championship‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
England – Championship, Resuits, Fixtures, Table (Soccerway.com).

From Guardian.co.uk/Football League Blog, ‘Championship 2011-12 season preview: the bloggers’ view‘.

On the map page, the map shows the locations of the clubs in the 2011-12 Football League Championship, which is the 2nd Level of English football. Flanking the map are the club crests of the 24 clubs in this season’s League Championship. The crests are sized to reflect the clubs’ 2010-11 average attendance (from home league matches). The larger the club’s average attendance, the larger the crest. On the left of the map page is a chart showing attendance data including 2010-11 average attendance, 2009-10 average attendance, percent-change from 09/10, stadium capacity, and percent-capacity. Each club’s movement (if any) in the past two seasons (up or down via promotion or relegation) is also shown on the chart.

Percent-capacity can be found on the chart in the column furthest to the right.
[Percent Capacity is arrived at this way...Average Attendance divided by Stadium Capacity equals Percent-Capacity.]

Below are the 10 clubs in the 2011-12 League Championship season that had a 70-percent-capacity or higher last season -

94.8%-capacity – West Ham United. Last spell in the second division lasted 2 seasons, from 2003 to 2005. The Hammers drew 31,167 per game in 03/04 in the second tier, then 27,403 per game in 04/05 when they got promoted out of the 2nd Level. That shows you that it is crucial for West Ham to get back to the Premier League this season, or see a 20 percent or so drop-off in fan support…not the best scenario if West Ham fails in their promotion-bid this season, then start playing in the White Elephant-with-running-track in 2012-13, with a dwindling fan support. What atmosphere will 27,000 generate in the 60,000 London Olympic Stadium ?
94.1%-capacity – Blackpool. Promoted in 2010 and relegated back to the Championship last season. Their now-fully renovated, 16,750-capacity Bloomfield Road was close to being completely full most of the time last season. Blackpool averaged 15,775 per game. It remains to be seen if the club can draw near that figure now that they are back in the second tier, and now that a large part of the starting squad from last year’s almost-fairy-tale season is gone. Ian Holloway has added striker Kevin Phillips to the team.
86.5%-capacity – Cardiff City. Played their first full season in the City of Cardiff Stadium (capacity 26,828), and being near the top of the table certainly contributed to their high attendance (23,194 per game). Now the squad has sputtered out at the end in two straight seasons, and new manager Malky Mackay has his work cut out for him.
84.8%-capacity – Birmingham City. A +0.9 percent increase from 2009-10 in average attendance (25,462 per game) as the West Midlands side began with the momentum of 09/10 [when they finished in 9th place in the Premier League]. En route to winning their second-only ‘major’ title by beating Arsenal 2-1 in the League Cup final in February, their form started dipping, and the Blues ended up on the wrong side of the log-jam at the bottom of the table. Maybe they would have avoided the drop if they shed their defensive shell once in a while. On the bright side, their new manager is Chris Hughton.
83.3%-capacity – Hull City AFC. It looks like Hull City has managed to maintain a considerable portion of their fan base after their 2-season stint in the Premier League, which ended in May 2010. Even though average attendance dropped minus-13.2% back in the Championship last year, the Tigers are still getting over 21,000 per game. This is how far the East Riding of Yorkshire club has come in a decade…10 seasons ago (2000-01), Hull City were a fourth division club drawing 6,684 per game. Now, after finally getting to the top flight, Hull are a mid-table second division club that gets over 20K a game.
83.1%-capacity – Brighton & Hove Albion. Gus Poyet has energized the squad and the 6 to 7 thousand Seagulls supporters who put up with the football purgatory that was the Withdean Stadium. And now their new stadium has energized the sleeping-giant fan base, and it looks like there will be close to sell-outs most every fortnight at Amex Stadium (capacity 22,500 for league matches). If they can avoid going straight back down, this south coast club will probably start drawing in the 18 to 20,000 range year-in, year-out. The club has made a couple good transfers: prolific striker Craig Mackail-Smith was bought from Peterborough for a club-record 2.5 million pounds; and MF Will Buckley was bought from Watford for 1 m. pounds {see this article from The Two Unfortunates from June 2011, by Lloyd, ‘The Monday Profile: Will Buckley‘.
77.5%-capacity – Derby County. Despite the decent percent-capacity number, average attendance (26,023 per game) was down over 3,000 per game from 2009-10, after another lackluster year for the Rams, who finished in 19th place. Derby supporters have got to be wondering about the ambition of the American ownership group.
76.1%-capacity – Nottingham Forest. Even though the club was in the promotion race all season, average attendance was still down minus-2.3 percent, to 23,275 per game. Maybe Forest fans could sense the impending post-season collapse, where, just like the season before, they looked bereft of ideas. The club’s new manager is Steve McClaren.
75.9%-capacity – Portsmouth. With a thread-bare squad after their near-financial meltdown, manager Steve Cotteril found a way to keep Pompey out of the relegation battle, with a 16th place finish, and the club drew 15,707 per game at the 20,700-capacity Fratton Park. Things like signing Luke Varney (for 1 m. pounds) are good signs from management.
73.1%-capacity – Reading. Their solid academy produces the talent to keep the Berkshire club living within their means and staying near the top of the table. It feels like one of these seasons, Reading will find a way to get back to the Premier League. They just fell short of promotion last season, losing 4-2 to Swansea City in an extremely entertaining play-off final at Wembley in May. Reading’s !7,682 per game average attendance at the 24,200-capacity Madejski Stadium was a 1.6 percent increase.

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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011–12 Football League Championship‘.
Thanks to European-Football-Statistics site, for attendance figures.
Thanks to FootballGroundGuide.com, for stadium capacities.

August 4, 2011

English Football League One – attendance map and data for clubs in the 2011-12 League One season.

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League One attendance map

League One – Results, Fixtures, Table (Soccerway.com).
2011–12 Football League One‘ (en.wikipedia.org).




Note: to see my latest map-&-post of the English 3rd division, click on the following, Eng-3rd Level/League One.

As I mentioned in my League Two post {here}, 5 clubs in the 2011-12 League One had a percent-capacity (for home league matches) of 60% or higher, last season [2010-11]. Here are the five…
67.0%-capacity – Chesterfield. A brand-new stadium (B2net Stadium, capacity 10,400) and a season-long-spell near the top of the table was a winning combination for the Spireites, who drew 6,972 per game in 2010-11. Chesterfield manager John Sheridan now has the task of making Chesterfield a viable third division side. The North Derbyshire club’s last spell in the 3rd Level lasted 6 seasons from 2001-02 to 2008-07, but Chesterfield never finished higher than 16th place.

66.4%-capacity – AFC Bournemouth. After avoiding financial meltdown, Bournemouth won promotion from League Two in 2010. The club lost manager Eddie Howe to Burnley in Jan. 2011, but still maintained good form and qualified for the play-offs, where they lost to Huddersfield Town in the first round. Caretaker manager Lee Bradbury got a 2 and-a-half year deal. The Cherries drew a solid 7,103 to their 10,700-capacity Dean Court.

63.1%-capacity – Sheffield United. A season from hell in South Yorkshire for Blades fans. Sheffield United sacked manager Kevin Blackwell after 3 games, hired Gary Speed, then he up and left them for the Wales job in December. The Blades never recovered. The solidity of the club’s fan base shows in their half-decent percent-capacity figure. They drew 20,632 per game to their 32,702-capacity Brammall Lane. Well, getting the drop to the third tier while still drawing over 20,000 per game worked out, in the end, for Norwich City. Blades supporters should just roll with it and treat this as an opportunity to finally visit places like Yeovil in Somerset, and Birkenhead in the Wirral [Tranmesre Rovers], and Carlisle in Cumbria.

61.07%-capacity – Exeter City. Exeter City, along with fellow League One club Brentford, are the highest-placed supporter-owned football clubs in England. Exeter City FC is wholly owned by Exeter Supporters Trust. The Grecians, despite their isolation in Devon, have been having a great run. Back-to-back promotions were followed last season by an impressive 8th place finish. Exeter drew 5,393 per game at their St. James Park, which has a capacity of 8,830. Attendance was actually down from 2009-10 (by minus-7.5%), but a good deal of that drop can be explained by the spate of cancellations and mid-week re-scheduled matches last winter, combined with Exeter’s isolated location.

60.4%-capacity – Scunthorpe United. Scunthorpe’s relegation was a blessing in disguise, because now the club doesn’t have to tear down a stand and re-build it as an all-seater. {See this, from Nov.2010, from The Two Unfortunates site, by Lloyd, ‘Keep Scunthorpe Standing‘}. Scunthorpe drew 5,548 per game last season at their 9,183-capacity Glanford Park. With up-and-coming manager Alan Knill (who played 130 games for Scunthorpe as a central defender in the 1990s), the club looks to be in a good position to compete for promotion once again. Maybe once they get back to the Championship and consolidate there, the Football League will have re-considered their rule that basically forces cash-strapped clubs to tear down perfectly good terraces. Germany does just fine with safe all-standing terraces, not just in the German second division (Bundesliga-2), but also in Bundesliga.

Here are the clubs that the oddsmakers have tipped to be promotion favorites…
From Statto.com, English League One – Promotion Odds. Top pick to get promotion is Huddersfield Town (of course). Second best pick is Sheffield Wednesday, followed by Preston North End, Sheffield United, and Charlton Athletic.

Hartlepool United’s cut-price season ticket scheme has been very successful, with the County Durham club selling 5,750 season tickets {See this, from HartlepoolMail.co.uk, ‘Pools season ticket push‘}. So Victoria Park, which has a capacity of just 7,787 for league games, will be seeing much higher percent-capacitry figures this season [note: their first home match on 13 Aug. drew 5,170]. Hartlepool is 41 km. (25 miles) SE of Newcastle, and has a population of around 90,000 {2006 figure}. Pools only drew 2,933 per game last season, and have been playing to mid-3,000-size crowds for half a decade now, yet have still managed to hang on in the third tier for 7 of their last 8 seasons. In the 2003-04 season, they drew 5,419, so it looks like some of those fans of the Monkey Hangers have come out of the woodwork for this deal.

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Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance figures.
Thanks to the FootballGroundGuide.com, for stadium capacities.

August 3, 2011

English Football League Two – attendance map and data for clubs in the 2011-12 League Two season.

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League Two Attendance Map

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[Note: to see my latest map-&-post of 4th division English football, click on the following, category: Eng-4th level/League Two.]

I introduced this type of map and chart last year, but last season I only covered the top 2 divisions in England in this fashion. This post covers the English Football League Two, which is the lowest level in the Football League and is the 4th Level in the English football pyramid. At each season’s end, two clubs gain promotion into this level from the 5th Level (for this season, Crawley Town and AFC Wimbledon) and two clubs are relegated out of League Two to Non-League Football and the Conference National (those 2 clubs were Lincoln City and Stockport County). Meanwhile, four clubs gain promotion from this level to League One, that is, from the 4th Level to the 3rd Level (those 4 clubs were Chesterfield, Bury, Wycombe Wanderers, and Stevenage). Finally, 4 clubs are relegated from League One to this level (those 4 clubs were Bristol Rovers, Dagenham & Redbridge, Plymouth Argyle, and Swindon Town).

The map shows the locations of the clubs in the 2011-12 season of League Two. Flanking the map are club crests, with the crests sized to reflect 2010-11 average attendance (home league matches). The larger the average attendance, the larger the club’s crest. So, down at this level, most of the club crests are going to be pretty small. In case you are wondering why Bradford City has such relatively high attendance figures for this level, that is because Bradford City instituted a cut-rate ticket scheme 3 seasons ago, and their gates shot up well past the 10,000-per game mark. Even though this pricing scheme has been largely phased out, the crowd-sizes have not diminished that much there in West Yorkshire, despite the Bantams’ lackluster form of late (they finished in 18th place last season)

Percent-Capacity in the lower leagues
This is the first time I have listed percent-capacity statistics for the lower Leagues. On the chart, the far right column shows each League Two club’s percent-capacity figure from last season [ Percent-capacity is found this way...Average Attendance divided by Stadium Capacity = Percent-Capacity ].

Percent-capacity figures for most League Two clubs are usually at or below 50%-capacity. And where a 70-80 percent-capacity number would be a healthy figure for a League Championship club {see this post from August 2010}, and there are 10 clubs in the 10/11 Championship that are in the 70 to 80%+ category; and a where a 60-70 percent-capacity is a very healthy figure for a League One club, and there are 5 clubs in the 10/11 League One that are in the 60 to 70% category, the problem is that getting a percent-capacity figure above 70% or so when you are a fourth-division-club means the club has stadium issues. Namely, that the club won’t have room for growth, in terms of fan base size, if they are promoted – without a costly stadium expansion. And revenue is being lost, because such a high percent-capacity for a small stadium means that inevitably there will be sold-out matches, so average attendance begins to plateau. That is the problem AFC Wimbledon will face if they are able to consolidate their new-found status as a Football League club. A little-noted fact about AFC Wimbledon is that they had a drop-off of minus-2.8% in attendance last season. [The lack of an extra sell-out date because Oxford City was no longer in the Conference in 2010-11 certainly contributed to the fact that Wimbledon's average gate was below the previous seasons'.] Wimbledon drew 3,435 per game last season in the Conference at their Kingsmeadow ground, in southwest London near Surrey. Kingsmeadow only has a capacity of 4,772. So AFC Wimbledon had a 72.8%-capacity last season, which is the highest figure of all clubs in the 11/12 League Two (or the 11/12 League One, for that matter). The club would certainly have had a larger average attendance if their stadium was larger, because those sell-outs last season versus, say, Luton Town, would have drawn well over 5,000 [probably even 7,000] had the ground been larger. So Wimbledon faces the situation where they will be losing revenue because of inadequate stadium capacity. There is an expansion planned at Kingsmeadow in the near future, but AFC Wimbledon’s specific plans are still vague.

Second-best percent-capacity from last season of 2011-12 League Two clubs was by a club that actually was in a relegation battle last season – Northampton Town, who finished in 16th. The Cobblers’ decent 4,605 per game average attendance last season was boosted by a low-price youth ticket scheme the club had introduced last summer, plus by larger crowds attending some of the late-season relegation-battles at the Sixfields Stadium (capacity 7,653). Northampton had a 60.2%-capacity figure last season. Here is an article from NTFC.co.uk, about their good gate figures, ‘Sixfields Attendance On The Increase‘.

There are 3 other clubs in League Two this season that had percent-capacity figures near 60% last season…
Shrewsbury Town, at 59.5%-capacity. The Shropshire club, in yet another failed-promotion-run last season, have been drawing well since their New Meadow ground opened in 2007. STFC drew 5,876 per game last season in the 9,875-capacity ground.
Oxford United at 58.2%-capacity. Oxford United finished in 12th place in their first season back in the League, drawing 7,277 per game at their 12,500-capacity Kassam Stadium. That was second-highest in League Two last season.
The just-relegated Swindon Town, at 57.5%-capacity. This after a 2009-10 season that saw Swindon come agonizingly close to winning promotion the the League Championship, losing to Millwall 1-0 in the 2009-10 League One play-off final at Wembley. Last season, Swindon Town, helped by 9K and plus-10K gates at matches early on in the season, actually had a slight 0.8% increase in a season which ended up seeing them relegated. Swindon Town had an average attendance of 8,450 per game in their 14,700-capacity County Ground.

Odds for promotion
Not coincidentally, the three clubs with the highest wage bill in League Two this season are also the three highest-rated clubs to win promotion (by the bookmakers, at least). Those 3 clubs are Crawley town, Swindon Town, and Bristol Rovers.
From Statto.com, English League Two Promotion Odds.
Topping the list is actually Crawley Town, despite the West Sussex club having just been promoted from Non-League football for the first time. This is thanks to Crawley Town’s shadowy and deep-pocketed Far East investors. Last season, Crawley Town spent more on player transfers than any other club in their league or the division above them (ie, this division), and such lavish outlay for these levels continues at Crawley. Swindon Town is second-favorite for promotion, while Bristol Rovers, Oxford United, and Shrewsbury Town round out the top five best odds for promotion.
_

Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance figures.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011-12 Football League Two‘.

August 1, 2011

France: the 3 promoted clubs from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1, for the 2011-12 season (Évian TG, Ajaccio, Dijon).

Filed under: France — admin @ 7:04 am

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The 3 promoted clubs in Ligue 1



Note: to see my latest map-&-post of Ligue Un, click on the following: category: France.

Two of the three clubs promoted to Ligue 1 will be making their top flight debuts – Ligue 2 champs Évian, and 3rd-place-finisher Dijon. Dijon secured promotion on the final day of the season, besting 4th-place-finisher Le Mans on goal difference, this despite losing their final match. The other promoted club is from the Island of Corsica – AC Ajaccio – and the club returns to Ligue 1 after a 6 season absence.

Actually, Évian Thonon Gaillard have won promotion for 2 consecutive seasons. Évian TG are from the Haute-Savoie department of the Rhône-Alpes Region of France and are situated in Gaillard, which is a border-town near Geneva, Switzerland. However, Ëvian TG currently play their home matches in Annecy, which is around 35 km. (22 miles) south of Évian’s headquarters in Gaillard. The stadium in Annecy is called the Parc des Sports, has a capacity of only 12,243, and has a running track. [The club also has, as part of their training facilities, a 2,000-capacity stadium in Gaillard.] Gaillard has a population of 11,000, and is part of the Greater Geneva metropolitan area. Geneva’s metro-area population is around 1.2 million [note: it's unclear how many Swiss citizens from the Geneva area go to Évian TG matches...I would guess of the 5,555 per game that Évian TG drew last season, less than 500 came from across the border in Switzerland. After all, it's a border crossing, and then another 35 kilometers, from Geneva to Annecy].

Évian Thonon Gaillard FC are a club that came into existence as the result of two different recent mergers, the first occurring in 2003, when FC Gaillard (established 1924) and FC Ville-la-Grand (established 1928) merged to form Football Croix-de-Savoie 74. Football Croix-de-Savoie 74 won promotion from the 4th division Championnat de France amateur in 2004 (in their first season), by finishing third, but still winning the sole promotion-spot for their regional league (Groupe B section) by virtue of finishing behind 2 ineligible-for-promotion teams (the teams that finished in 1st and 2nd place that year in Groupe B were the reserve squads of Oyimpique Lyon and FC Metz). Once in the 3rd division National, relegation was narrowly avoided in 2004-05, but Football Croix-de-Savoie 74 went back to the wilderness of the 4th division and the regional leagues in 2005-06.

2006-07 saw the club undergo another merger, this time with Olympique Thonon-Chablais, with the resultant club being known as Olympique Croix-de-Savoie 74. The club also moved their headquarters from Thonon-les-Bains, on the south shore of Lake Geneva, around 34 km. (20 miles) west to Gaillard. In 2007-08, after being forced to play in the 6,000-capacity stadium back in Thonon, rather than their much smaller stadium in Gaillard, the club won promotion back to the 3rd division (the National). Here is a link to the news archive of the official Évian TG site, that shows several photos of the last match of the 2008-09 season, and the last time the club played in Thonon, and the last time the club played under the Croix de Savoie name, { http://www.etgfc.com/2009/06/03/les-photos-de-sete/ }.

In the summer of 2009, Franck Riboud, the president of the large French food products multinational corporation Groupe Danone (marketed as Dannon in North America and famous for yogurt products such as Yoplait, and Évian bottled water) was named the honorary president of the football club, and Groupe Danone acquired the club. It was then (2009) that the club changed it’s name to Évian Thonon Gaillard FC. It was also then that the club started wearing kits {see this} that look like an Évian water bottle (pink/white/sky-blue trim). In 2009-10, in the first year with the new name and the new look, Évian won promotion to the 2nd division. But again, thanks to promotion, the club was stuck playing in an inadequate stadium, and were forced to look elsewhere than the stadium in Thonon. For a while it appeared that Évian TG would begin play in August 2009 in the French second tier in Switzerland, in Geneva’s 30,000-seat Stade de Genève, but UEFA listened to complaints from Swiss second division club Servette FC (who play in that stadium [and who were recently promoted back to the Swiss top flight]). Despite the support of the French football federation (FFF), UEFA decreed that Évian were not allowed to play at Stade de Genève. So the club were forced to settle for the small stadium a half-hour’s drive south, in Annecy (note: en.wikipedia.org’s page on Annecy, {here} has a nice picture of a very old turreted stone building right on the water in the town-centre of Annecy). Annecy is on the shores of a smaller mountain lake, Lake Annecy, which is known as ‘Europe’s cleanest lake’.

In January, 2011, Évian beat French giants and then-reigning champions Olympique Marseille in the round-of-64 stage of the Coupe de France. In May, 2011, after completing their first season in the second division, Évian won their second consecutive promotion, and will now play their first season in the top flight in 2011-12.

Note: On the map page, the locations of Évian’s current home ground in Annecy, the club’s former headquarters and former home ground in Thonon, and the club’s current headquarters in Gaillard are shown. I’m guessing some folks out there are curious where the source of Évian mineral water is. Well, I balked at showing, on the map page, the source of Évian mineral water (that would set a precedent which would mean I would also have to show, say, where the Red Bull factories are located, on my map of football in Austria), but it’s a couple towns east of Thonon, in Évian-les-Bains {here}.

Évian TG have signed former Udinese centre back and Ghana international Jonathan Mensah to a 4-year deal, {see this (from GhanaSoccer.net) }. Former Lyon winger and French international Sidney Gouvou has been signed by Évian on a 2-year deal, as mentioned in the following link…From Bettor.com, ‘Ligue 1 special: A look at newly-promoted Evian Thonon Gaillard FC ‘.

AC Ajaccio are the largest football club in Ajaccio, which is the largest city on the Island of Corsica. The population of Ajaccio is only around 65,000. [In case you are wondering, SC Bastia are the only other club from Corsica with any first division history; and the other sizable club from the city of Ajaccio is the 4th-division-club Gazélec Ajaccio.] AC Ajaccio play in red-and-white-vertically-striped jerseys. Athletic Club Ajaccien was formed in 1910, and their first ground was on the site of a former sand dump. They moved soon after to a ground which held 5,000 spectators, on which they played until 1969. Their current ground, the 10,600-capacity Stade François Coty, hasn’t made it that far from their sand dump days, though, as you can see by one of the photos on the map page here – some of the ‘seating’ there consists of concrete slabs. I think the folks watching the public stonings in the film Life Of Brian had better seating than those concrete slabs in Ajaccio. Sheesh. Anyway, AC Ajaccio will be making their first appearance in Ligue 1 since a 4-year-spell which lasted from 2002-03 to 2005-06 (where they never finished higher than 14th place). 2011-12 will be Ajaccio’s 11th season in Ligue 1. Ajaccio averaged 3,422 per game last season in Ligue 2, and their highest recent average attendance was in 2002-03, when they drew 4,840 per game. That’s dire, but remember, the club plays in a city of less than 70,000. And despite having the smallest operating budget in Ligue 1 this season (of just 16 million Euros), Ajaccio have made a pretty big signing in luring over from Mexico City the former Club América goalkeeper and Mexican international Guillermo Ochoa. From Bettor.com, ‘Guillermo Ochoa snubs Paris Saint-Germain to join AC Ajaccio‘.

Dijon FCO are another club that owe their recent rise to a merger. In 1998, Circle Dijon Football and Dijon FC merged to form Dijon Football Côte-d’Or. It’s actually way more complicated than that, but I have still got a headache from untangling Évian TG’s origins, so you must forgive me if I simply direct you to the Dijon FCO ‘Arbre généalogique‘, or family tree, at the fr.wikipedi.org page on Dijon, {here}. Dijon FCO are from the Côte-d’Or departement of the Region of Burgundy, 262 km. (162 miles) south-east of Paris, and 174 km. (108 miles) north of Lyon. The city of Dijon has a population of around 151,000 {2008 figure}. Dijon play in all red kits, and their kit badge features an owl in flight. Dijon FCO are renovating their Stade Gaston-Gérard in stages, and will next be in the fill-in-the-coirners stage. The stadium has a running track. Stade Gaston-Gérard used to be a 9,000-capacity stadium, and currently it holds 16,000. I had a real hard time getting any aerial images of the stadium as it currently looks, let alone any decent photos of any of the new stands, so the Dijon fansite at the following link really saved the day…Photo of Tribune Nord and Tribune Est from StadeDijonfootball.unblog.fr, here, here. Here is one of those architect’s renderings of what Dijon’s renovated stadium is planned to look like {from dfco.fr, {click here for architect’s rendering – to see it, scroll down to bottom of page and click on image}. [Note, I could not find any projected-completion-date for the renovated stadium.] Dijon were drawing around 3,500 per game in 2008-09; around 5,400 per game in 2009-10; and increased their crowds again to about 7,500 per game last season, so this is a club that has a fan base that is growing at a nice pace. And the club’s ambition is evident in their stadium redevelopment, which will result in a 22,000-seat stadium that is fully covered and will have no running track. Hooray for that.
Dijon will be keeping a considerable amount of players from last season. Still, they have done OK in the transfer market, signing former Bolton centre back and Côte d’Ivoire international Abdoulaye Meite, and Japan international Daisuke Matsui, a winger who has played in Ligue 1 for Le Mans, Saint-Étienne and Grenoble.
From Bettor.com, ‘Ligue 1 special: A look at newly-promoted Ligue 1 side Dijon FCO ‘.

Photo credits -
Évian Thonon Gaillard…Aerial photo of Parc des Sports d’Annecy) by Lucien Fortunati at TDG.ch [Tribune de Genéve], here. Exterior photo from Ville dÁnnecy via leDauphine.com, here. Photo of stand with mountains of the Apls behind it from euro.Stades.ch, here. Photo of fans in Main Stand from the official site ETGFC.com, here.

Dijon FCO…Aerial image of Stade Gaston Gérard [before construction of Tribune Nord (North Stand)] from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here. Interior photo of renovated Stade Gaston Gérard from Info-Stades.fr/forums, here. Photo of Tribune Nord and Tribune Est from StadeDijonfootball.unblog.fr, here, here..

AC Ajaccio…Aerial photo of Stade François Coty by Michel Luccioni at Cosematin.com, here. Interiotr photo of stade François Coty from JungleKey.fr, here.Photo stands at Stade François Coty by Julia&Stoffi at EuroStadiums.com, here. Photo of Ajaccio fans with banners from frenchFootballWeekly.wordpress.com, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011-12 Ligue 1‘.
Thanks to Ligue 2 site, for attendance figures, here.
Thanks to Soccerway.com, for the 2010-11 Ligue 2 final table.
Thanks to Yahoo! Babelfish for French translation.
Thanks to the Évian TG site [in French].

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