21 February 2010
What the football attendance statistics tell us

I love this sort of thing: Average Attendance Rankings for the Premiership for the 2009-2010 season to date.

One of the guys in the office - a Liverpool fan - was complaining about, well, Liverpool.  Which got me thinking.  Should Liverpool really be doing any better than, say, Newcastle?  My belief is that the chief determinant of a team’s success - in the long run at least - is its attendance.  So, how do Liverpool and Newcastle compare?  Well, it’s pretty close: 43367 average attendees playing 42199.  My colleague should thank his lucky stars.  Having said that I wouldn’t hold out much for Liverpool’s long term prospects. 

So, what else do these stats tell us?

Well, for starters, attendance is indeed a pretty good indicator of success.

Arsenal must wish they’d built a bigger stadium.  99% occupancy.

I really wouldn’t want to be a Chelsea fan when Abramovitch walks away.

They don’t half like their (not terribly good) football in Sunderland [and the North East generally - see the table for the Second Division]

And they really like it in Cardiff.  So much so that they would appear to watch it sat upon one another’s knees.  How else does one explain a 107% occupancy rate?

I wonder if an ability to get bums on seats is a factor in team success.  Certainly, if I were a player I’d prefer to play in front of a packed audience.  There is something dispiriting about the sight of empty seats.  And it would seem that those teams that have high capicity utilisation like Hull, Stoke and Wolverhampton are doing well this season.  Oh, but hang about, the places with the spaces include Wigan and Blackburn who are doing fine and Birmingham who are doing brilliantly.  So, that would be a “no”.

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  1. “My belief is that the chief determinant of a team’s success - in the long run at least - is its attendance..”

    An interesting proposition, and one which is entirely at odds with the greater part of the history of Sunderland Association Football Club (we’ll soon be playing Watford down in the Fizzy-Pop league if our results don’t improve)... You weren’t thinking of applying for the Watford manager’s job with that were you?!

    I think that explaining success or failure in football is in some ways similar to explaining why other historical events happened as they did (e.g. wars) - i.e. something more easily done with the benefit of hindsight.

    Posted by mike on 21 February 2010 at 06:32pm

  2. Sunderland and North-East teams generally seem to be something of an exception to the rule.  Large crowds with little to show for it.

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on 21 February 2010 at 06:47pm

  3. Everton, Manchester City, West Ham…

    Incidentally, you might take look here under the section on most successful clubs since 1871.

    Posted by mike on 21 February 2010 at 09:06pm

  4. How do you know you haven’t got cause and effect the wrong way round?  I suspect a sort of virtuous spiral.

    As for the exception, I have been to one Blackburn game and know a few Blackburn fans. From this I gather that there is a particular kind of fan who seems to enjoy complaining about his team, and constantly threatens to cancel his season ticket, but never does.

    Posted by Rob Fisher on 22 February 2010 at 07:56pm

  5. Arsenal 99% occupancy? Yeah right. Arsenal routinely fabricate their attendance even when there are swathes of empty seats in the Emirates. This after they even admitted that they count season ticket holders who are not in attendance as being in attendance. Don’t believe the hype.

    Posted by Rod on 04 March 2010 at 02:59pm

  6. Well, if the seat is sold… that’s good enough for me.

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on 05 March 2010 at 04:56am

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