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FootballNewsNewcastle’s return to Premier League sets crowd levels on course for record

Newcastle’s return to Premier League sets crowd levels on course for record


By Brian Sears

28 September 2010

Premier League attendance levels have risen year-on-year, and if the trend at this fledging stage of the season remains constant through the campaign, crowds will hit record levels in 2010-11, according to analysis and projections by sportingintelligence.

Our statistical reasoning is summarised in the table below, more of which in a moment, but the simple explanation is that Newcastle United’s big crowds are key to the positive change. The Toon Army are back in hefty numbers and they will be key to the making or (not) breaking of a divisional attendance record.

Top-flight crowds overall are holding up reasonably well with a few exceptions. As our table shows, Everton’s crowds for their home games in August and September are up 2.1 per cent on the levels in the same months last year, while Fulham, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham are all up too, albeit slightly.

The biggest fallers are Wigan (down more than 12 per cent), Bolton, Blackburn and Stoke, while the rest of the clubs have dipped just a bit compared to the same time last year, when most clubs had also played three home league games, as now.

The key to the predicted overall rise in crowds, possibly to record levels, is the replacement of relegated Hull, Burnley and Portsmouth with Newcastle, West Brom and Blackpool.

The newcomers have respectively averaged home crowds so far this season of 45,019, 23,442, and 15,715, for a total average home gate for the trio of 84,177 (note 1 in the table), whereas Hull, Burnley and Pompey had total average home gates at this stage last season of 61,935 (note 2). So the newcomers collectively, thanks to Newcastle, are attracting more than 22,000 extra people per home match to the Premier League.

But our calculations for the season’s total cannot be based on something as simple as Newcastle bringing in 22,000-plus people per 19 home games. Naw pet; it’s not that simple.

Look instead at the total number of tickets sold in the Premier League in August and September 2009 (2,170,949 in 66 games for an average crowd of 32,893) and then compare it to the numbers this year, or 2,085,366 in 60 games for an average of 34,756 (see note 3).

That is the key trend to note: that increase in average gate across the division of 5.66 per cent.

Now look at what happened to the average gate for the whole of 2009-10: it grew from 32,893 at the end of September to 34,151 by the season’s end, for all the normal reasons including the slow seasonal starts because of holidays being boosted later during the festive season at Christmas and by run-ins with all kinds of honours to chase and ignominies to avoid.

The “uplift” in the end-of-September average to the end-of-season average was 3.82 per cent or thereabouts last season and if we apply that same uplift to the current average of 34,756, then the season’s average becomes 36,085 fans per game (note 4) and the season’s total will become 13,712,366, or a record number of fans in the Premier League era, pipping the 13,708,875 total of 2007-08.

There are no guarantees, of course. These are early days and that record of three seasons ago could stand unbeaten for a while yet.

But the statistics certainly suggest a challenge is in the offing, and there is some spare capacity at key grounds (including Newcastle and West Brom) to allow average crowds to get bigger yet. Newcastle are currently averaging 45,000 in a stadium that holds more than 52,000. As Delia might say: great support from many of the Toon, now let’s be ‘avin the rest of you.


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