billsportsmaps.com

August 4, 2010

England: The Football League Championship, 2010-11 season – attendance map, with average attendances and percent capacities (from 2009-10).


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From The Two Unfortunates site,
Previews of League Championship clubs
{Part 1 – Barnsley through Leicester City}
{Part 2 – Middlesbrough through Watford}

You can find each club’s 2009-10 percentage capacity on the far right of the chart on the map page. The figures are hard to pin down, because a stadium’s total seat-capacity is always going to be slightly larger than the stadium’s capacity for a Football League Championship match, because rows or columns of seats are left empty, in order to separate home and away fans The same procedure, of course, also applies in the Premier League [as well as in Football Leagues One and Two, but there are rarely sell-outs in the two lower leagues of the Football League]. I used the Football Grounds Guide.com for stadium capacity figures {www.footballgroundsguide.com}.
I like percentage capacity because it sort of provides a bit of a picture…it’s one thing to say that a club draws 17,308 per game, but to also say that that club is playing to just a 53.3% capacity, well that sounds like the club has real problems. I’m talking about you, Coventry City…who own the worst 2009-10 percentage capacity figure for clubs in the League Championship this season. How does a relatively big club like Coventry City manage such a dismal capacity rate? 1. Prolonged stay in the 2nd Level without a reasonable hope of promotion. 2. Lackluster play and a manager on his way out. 3. A charmless stadium built outside the city center and in the middle of nowhere. 4. The generally poor economy.

The fact that the Championship is the 2nd Level of English football means that the clubs’ percentage capacity numbers will be, almost by definition, sort of low…more in the high 50% to low 70% range, for a majority of the clubs. That’s because usually most of the supporters of the lion’s share of clubs in the Championship believe their club to be worthy of the Premier League, and when they are not in the top flight, or do not seem to be progressing towards that goal, attendances go down. And the Championship clubs that had the ultimately most successful seasons the previous year are now in the top flight (certainly in 2 of the 3 cases of the promoted clubs each season). So high capacity-percentage clubs in the Championship are very often just-relegated clubs from the Premier League, and just-promoted clubs from the Football League One, In other words, a club that had never been in the Premier League and that only stays a season or two there before relegation back to the Championship (like both Burnley and Hull City); and conversely, a club with a devoted fan base that was immediately promoted back from the 3rd Level (like Norwich City). Another instance of a healthy percentage-capacity number would be a small club with a small stadium, punching above their weight in a division few thought they could survive in… like both Doncaster Rovers and Scunthorpe United, but actually, both these clubs were not in the top half of the percentage-capacity ranking…a better example would be Colchester United, who in one of their two seasons of second division football, in 2007-08, played to 87.2% capacity in their tiny, former ground, Layer Road. Another example of a high percentage-capacity club in the second tier is one that basically has excellent and virtually unwavering fan support, even if the club did not fare so well the previous season. Sheffield United and Ipswich Town have been in this category in recent seasons, but the best example of this from last season is Derby County, who had the second-best average attendance at 29,230 per game last season, even though they were pretty bad. [The best-drawing club in the Championship last season was, of course, Newcastle United, who drew 43,388 per game in their promotion-winning campaign.] That Derby County average attendance figure translates to a solid 87% capacity last season, even though the Rams won less than a third of their matches and finished in 14th place.

3 of the clubs mentioned above, Norwich, Hull, and Burnley, had percentage-capacity figures of over 90% last season. But you just know that lots and lots of those people who attended matches at Burnley’s Turf Moor last season did it believing that it could very well be the only season in their lifetimes that they could see Burnley play in the Premier League. After all, Burnley were drawing in the 11,000 to 13,000 per game range for over a decade before their shock promotion season of 2008-09. The crowds at Burnley will probably dwindle unless they remain competitive and mount another promotion campaign.

Hull is very different, because as they climbed the league pyramid from 2004 to 2008, their average crowds rose in tandem. It’s astounding to realize that in 2003-04, Hull City drew 16,847 in the fourth division (which was called the Nationwide Division Three). So I am sure that Hull will keep more of their paying customers this season than does Burnley. The other relegated club, Portsmouth, I am not sure what to expect. Pompey (and their supporters, including old Bill, here) had the season-from-hell in 2009-10 [FA Cup run notwithstanding], but Portsmouth still played to a respectable 88.4% capacity. Maybe some of those Pompey fans were attending games last winter and spring thinking they better go now because there might not be a next time, what with the real threat of Portsmouth being wound up early in 2010. Well, Portsmouth dodged that HMRC bullet, and they’re still around. I can see Portsmouth getting simillar-sized, 18,000 per game crowds this season. But really, who knows. They may end up unable to field a competitive squad. Administrator Andonikou says the club can’t pay above 10,000 pounds per week for players {see this (specifically the last sentance in the article), by Neil Allen, from the News (portsmouth.co.uk), from 4 August, 2010, ‘Recruitment drive begins despite uncertain future‘.). Pompey may end up being unable to field a competitive squad. If this happens, I fear plummeting crowds, and another relegation for Portsmouth.
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Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia.org, 2010-11 Football League Championship.
Thanks to Mike Avery’s site at http://www.mikeavery.co.uk.
Thanks to The Football Ground Guide (for capacities of grounds), http://www.footballgroundguide.co.uk

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