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Eddie

Attendances

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I know a lot of you don’t like positives when it comes to Rugby League, but attendances are nowhere near as low as some people like to think. Ok they’re smaller than in the 70s and the challenge cup doesn’t sell Wembley out, but despite what you read on this forum they’re pretty good. 
 

SL’s average attendance last season was 8,441. That would make it the 18th best supported football league in Europe, which may not sound great but if you consider the population of the Heartlands (5 million?) it’s pretty good. Certainly higher than the football leagues in comparatively sized football mad countries such as Austria, Denmark and Norway, and even higher than Serie B in Italy.  
 

Also the average attendance in the Championship (2,645) was far higher than the Union equivalent (1,606).

Edited by Eddie
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On 30/05/2020 at 07:48, Eddie said:

I know a lot of you don’t like positives when it comes to Rugby League, but attendances are nowhere near as low as some people like to think. Ok they’re smaller than in the 70s and the challenge cup doesn’t sell Wembley out, but despite what you read on this forum they’re pretty good. 
 

SL’s average attendance last season was 8,441. That would make it the 18th best supported football league in Europe, which may not sound great but if you consider the population of the Heartlands (5 million?) it’s pretty good. Certainly higher than the football leagues in comparatively sized football mad countries such as Austria, Denmark and Norway, and even higher than Serie B in Italy.  
 

Also the average attendance in the Championship (2,645) was far higher than the Union equivalent (1,606).

Another thing is people tend to vastly overestimate the attendances of long ago. I got into the game in the 1980s and back then the great Wigan team would attract big attendances but no one else did. in 1987 Leeds drew a home average of about 7,000.

 

Things could be better but could be a whole lot worse.

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19 minutes ago, noobiefana said:

Another thing is people tend to vastly overestimate the attendances of long ago. I got into the game in the 1980s and back then the great Wigan team would attract big attendances but no one else did. in 1987 Leeds drew a home average of about 7,000.

 

Things could be better but could be a whole lot worse.

However maybe you yourself have tended to under-estimate the attendances of long ago.

In the 1987-88 season Leeds played 17 home games, attracting a total of 171,485 people which is an average of 10,087.

https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/championship-1987-88/leeds/summary.html

The others in the top division (14 teams) were ....

Widnes 6,671  St.Helens 8,158   Wigan 13,337   Bradford 5,094   Warrington 5,064    Castleford 4,537    Halifax 6,403

HullKR  4,282   Hull  4,804     Salford 3,906     Leigh 4,835      Swinton 2,923      Hunslet  2,622

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It would have been even higher this season as well you'd have thought with Toronto replacing London.

The championship gets relatively healthy crowds and most SL clubs don't do bad to be fair. Of course there is still room for growth and it would be beneficial to have an even more broad spread of clubs with good attendances.

My main concerns would be that in over a decade of effective dominance Leeds and Wigan have had a rather dramatic slide in attendances. From averaging 15 even 16k plus that has now dropped to being a very good one off crowd. That this has happened during a successful period for the two clubs is even more worrying. Realistically this is a time they should have been pushing towards 20k as a target.

Is this a case of the big teams sitting on their laurels somewhat? I think so. I also think in Leeds case there has been a lack of focus on the marketing of the club whilst the stadium rebuild has been in development - so maybe a bit of sitting on laurels and a bit of taking their eye off the ball.

The aim should be continued growth surely with every crossed barrier being a gateway to the next level of crowds. The big one for a lot of super league clubs is breaking the 10k home average (where possible). If its not I'd be looking at one off fixtures in larger nearby grounds, ie Cas at Elland Road, Toronto at BMO. The rung after that is the 15k barrier then onwards and upwards. Obviously there are limits to what any side can draw in, but I suppose you have to believe what your selling is good enough so the sky is the limit.

For all we deride the dark side, they have grown their club competition to quite impressive crowds in spite of many factors, not least what goes on on the pitch.

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I think you have to take attendance figures with a pinch of salt, not every figure is the actual attendance.

I think Wigan and Hull are the worst ones, they announce crowds of over 10,000 when there are clearly less than that in the stands.

Oh and Huddersfield, they give crowd figures out but apparently don't have fans  ?

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26 minutes ago, meast said:

I think you have to take attendance figures with a pinch of salt, not every figure is the actual attendance.

I think Wigan and Hull are the worst ones, they announce crowds of over 10,000 when there are clearly less than that in the stands.

Oh and Huddersfield, they give crowd figures out but apparently don't have fans  ?

It's not like that. It vitally important that the numbers are right, for example  in case of an evacuation emergency. 


Four legs good - two legs bad

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This seems to come up quite a lot on here. Crowd figures include all season pass holders even if they aren't there because the club can't know whether they will go or not and they have to know what the highest figure could be to provide the appropriate number of stewards/emergency staff in case there is an emergency situation, for example an evacuation, as John says above.

This is one reason why attendances at Wembley have been lower in recent years, because they are selling the club Wembley seats now rather than keeping them reserved for the people who usually have them. When they were reserved for the club Wembley individuals they too were counted whether they were there or not in the interests of safety. 

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8 hours ago, RL does what Sky says said:

However maybe you yourself have tended to under-estimate the attendances of long ago.

In the 1987-88 season Leeds played 17 home games, attracting a total of 171,485 people which is an average of 10,087.

https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/championship-1987-88/leeds/summary.html

The others in the top division (14 teams) were ....

Widnes 6,671  St.Helens 8,158   Wigan 13,337   Bradford 5,094   Warrington 5,064    Castleford 4,537    Halifax 6,403

HullKR  4,282   Hull  4,804     Salford 3,906     Leigh 4,835      Swinton 2,923      Hunslet  2,622

I have to post this on here every couple of years, to remind people that attendances today are much *higher* than the 1970s. Rothmans annuals used to list all the games with attendances over 10 000. County Cup, JPT, Floodlit Trophy Finals often didn't make the list. The figures from the preceding seasons in the 1970s are even worse than these. This was a couple of years after the Oxley/Howes administration had started to turn things round.

1976-77 Average Attendances (league position in brackets)

Division 1

1.  Widnes (10)  6129
2.  Salford (6) 5457
3.  St. Helens (2) 4736
4.  Hull KR (4) 4718
5.  Wigan (7) 4699
6.  Bradford N (8) 4669
7.  Leeds (9) 4548
8.  Warrington (5) 4485
9.  Castleford (3) 3756
10. Featherstone R (1) 3307
11. Leigh (14) 3269
12. Wakefield T (11) 2931
13. Barrow (15) 2599
14. Workington T (12) 2056
15. Oldham (16) 2051
16. Rochdale H (13) 1848

Division 2
1. Hull (1) 3860
2. York (5) 3475
3. Dewsbury (2) 1960
4. Keighley (6)1848
5. Bramley (3) 1709
6. Huddersfield (7) 1520
7. Halifax  (10) 1429
8. Swinton (11) 1215
9. New Hunslet (4) 1208
10. Batley (12) 917
11. Whitehaven (8) 615
12. Doncaster (14) 488
13. Blackpool (13) 393
14. Huyton (9) 326

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9 hours ago, noobiefana said:

in 1987 Leeds drew a home average of about 7,000.

 

9 hours ago, RL does what Sky says said:

However maybe you yourself have tended to under-estimate the attendances of long ago.

In the 1987-88 season Leeds played 17 home games, attracting a total of 171,485 people which is an average of 10,087.

https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/championship-1987-88/leeds/summary.html

I think it is important to point out for fairness that there are two seasons to reflect the year 1987.  You chose 1987-88.

If you had picked the 1986-87 season instead then the average would have been 7,155.

https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/championship-1986-87/leeds/summary.html

 

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5 minutes ago, JonM said:

I have to post this on here every couple of years, to remind people that attendances today are much *higher* than the 1970s. Rothmans annuals used to list all the games with attendances over 10 000. County Cup, JPT, Floodlit Trophy Finals often didn't make the list. The figures from the preceding seasons in the 1970s are even worse than these. This was a couple of years after the Oxley/Howes administration had started to turn things round.

1976-77 Average Attendances (league position in brackets)

Division 1

1.  Widnes (10)  6129
2.  Salford (6) 5457
3.  St. Helens (2) 4736
4.  Hull KR (4) 4718
5.  Wigan (7) 4699
6.  Bradford N (8) 4669
7.  Leeds (9) 4548
8.  Warrington (5) 4485
9.  Castleford (3) 3756
10. Featherstone R (1) 3307
11. Leigh (14) 3269
12. Wakefield T (11) 2931
13. Barrow (15) 2599
14. Workington T (12) 2056
15. Oldham (16) 2051
16. Rochdale H (13) 1848

Division 2
1. Hull (1) 3860
2. York (5) 3475
3. Dewsbury (2) 1960
4. Keighley (6)1848
5. Bramley (3) 1709
6. Huddersfield (7) 1520
7. Halifax  (10) 1429
8. Swinton (11) 1215
9. New Hunslet (4) 1208
10. Batley (12) 917
11. Whitehaven (8) 615
12. Doncaster (14) 488
13. Blackpool (13) 393
14. Huyton (9) 326

While I was only just born then so can’t remember that era, I’m astonished at how low those attendances are. 

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Just now, Eddie said:

While I was only just born then so can’t remember that era, I’m astonished at how low those attendances are. 

How about this one?

https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/championship-1985-86/summary.html

Swinton (2621, playing at Bolton) better average attendance than Salford (2596) in the top flight. Didn't know that had happened. York (2964) were higher than both. Other average attendances in the top flight that year include Bradford 3881, Cas 3528, Warrington 3743. 

This is a golden age for RL attendances.

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2 minutes ago, JonM said:

How about this one?

https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/championship-1985-86/summary.html

Swinton (2621, playing at Bolton) better average attendance than Salford (2596) in the top flight. Didn't know that had happened. York (2964) were higher than both. Other average attendances in the top flight that year include Bradford 3881, Cas 3528, Warrington 3743. 

This is a golden age for RL attendances.

Halifax on 5,000 as well! 

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1 hour ago, meast said:

I think you have to take attendance figures with a pinch of salt, not every figure is the actual attendance.

I think Wigan and Hull are the worst ones, they announce crowds of over 10,000 when there are clearly less than that in the stands.

Oh and Huddersfield, they give crowd figures out but apparently don't have fans  ?

You've not got a chip on your shoulder about this have you?

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9 minutes ago, Eddie said:

Halifax on 5,000 as well! 

League champions that year with a largely Australian team, I think they were winless after four games and then didn't lose again in the league for 4 months.

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1 minute ago, JonM said:

League champions that year with a largely Australian team, I think they were winless after four games and then didn't lose again in the league for 4 months.

True. Considering Fax average almost 2k after years of relative mediocrity in the championship, maybe they could pull in those sort of crowds again if they ever get back in SL. 

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27 minutes ago, JonM said:

How about this one?

https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/championship-1985-86/summary.html

Swinton (2621, playing at Bolton) better average attendance than Salford (2596) in the top flight. Didn't know that had happened. York (2964) were higher than both. Other average attendances in the top flight that year include Bradford 3881, Cas 3528, Warrington 3743. 

This is a golden age for RL attendances.

Looks like there were only two of Swinton's games at Bolton with the rest at Station Road as you'd expect.

Not sure on the circumstances of those two being played at Burnden. I originally suspected it was to make use of the undersoil heating as had been the case in other seasons, but the first game was late August (Saints, 3,142) and the other was late March (Wigan, 8,615).

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9 minutes ago, Leyther_Matt said:

Looks like there were only two of Swinton's games at Bolton with the rest at Station Road as you'd expect.

Not sure on the circumstances of those two being played at Burnden. I originally suspected it was to make use of the undersoil heating as had been the case in other seasons, but the first game was late August (Saints, 3,142) and the other was late March (Wigan, 8,615).

I vaguely recall that they took a couple of big games there, so that makes sense. There was a decent size group of young lads wearing Bolton & Swinton scarves following Swinton for a few years back then.

Would've been the year after the Valley Parade fire, so I guess many clubs with wooden stands were having trouble with ground safety certificates.

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4 minutes ago, JonM said:

I vaguely recall that they took a couple of big games there, so that makes sense. There was a decent size group of young lads wearing Bolton & Swinton scarves following Swinton for a few years back then.

Would've been the year after the Valley Parade fire, so I guess many clubs with wooden stands were having trouble with ground safety certificates.

With Burnden being on the southern side of town, Bolton always got (and still do) a decent support from Little Hulton, Walkden and Swinton, while the Swinton club lottery is still linked with BWFC's.

Interesting sidenote is that the attendance for the Swinton-Wigan game was only 600 short of BWFC's highest attendance of that season, albeit playing in Division Four. I'd say that thankfully that was before my time, and yet here I am waiting to hand over my money for a League Two season ticket...

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1 hour ago, Dunbar said:

 

I think it is important to point out for fairness that there are two seasons to reflect the year 1987.  You chose 1987-88.

If you had picked the 1986-87 season instead then the average would have been 7,155.

https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/championship-1986-87/leeds/summary.html

 

Just to be clear when I mentioned the Leeds attendances in 1977 I was not bashing Leeds or being snide. I was picking an undeniably big club with a large fanbase and pointing out that looking at past attendances through sepia tinted glasses is very deceptive.

 

It would be great to see attendances rise but there never was a "golden age" where most clubs exceeded 10,000. Even the biggest clubs frequently loitered well below that.

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2 hours ago, meast said:

I think you have to take attendance figures with a pinch of salt, not every figure is the actual attendance.

I think Wigan and Hull are the worst ones, they announce crowds of over 10,000 when there are clearly less than that in the stands.

Oh and Huddersfield, they give crowd figures out but apparently don't have fans  ?

This scenario is not unique to Hull & Wigan. As far as I know all clubs, both in RL and other major sports, announce the Official Attendance which includes season ticket holders who may not have attended a particular game. This is justified on the basis a ticket has been sold and VAT/tax is payable on the revenue. I have no idea how old this practice is or who dreamt it up.

Edited by Whippet13

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1 minute ago, Whippet13 said:

This scenario is not unique to Hull & Wigan. As far a s I know all clubs, both in RL and other major sports, announce the Official Attendance which includes season ticket holders who may not have attended a particular game. This is justified on the basis a ticket has been sold and VAT/tax is payable on the revenue. I have no idea how old this practice is or who dreamt it up.

One blatant example from a different sport is Arsenal FC. Recently they have fallen off the pace and at times we have seen acres of empty seats..I mean many thousands of empty seats....yet official attendance is 100% full.

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3 minutes ago, Whippet13 said:

This scenario is not unique to Hull & Wigan. As far as I know all clubs, both in RL and other major sports, announce the Official Attendance which includes season ticket holders who may not have attended a particular game. This is justified on the basis a ticket has been sold and VAT/tax is payable on the revenue. I have no idea how old this practice is or who dreamt it up.

Yes Norwich definitely do it, at some midweek games in the middle of winter when people with STs don’t want to travel from all over the county and others don’t bring their young kids the crowd is noticeably smaller, but is still announced as almost a sell out. 

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1 minute ago, scotchy1 said:

The problem with the comparison between the championship and union equivalent is that the vast vast majority of that attendance is concentrated at a couple of clubs who are subject to leaving the comp. 

That average is going drop hugely even if every club grows because of swapping toronto for London.

Isn’t it the same in Union though, with Newcastle Falcons? Good effort in trying to find a negative though ?

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14 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

Not to the same scale because Torontos attendance are so disproportionate compared other clubs going down.

It's not really a useful comparison simply because both leagues attendances are so relatively small that they change drastically just because of the clubs in them that year.

This is true. Fact is that for top flight Rugby League measurable changes in attendance trends only make sense judged on the clubs in the Lancashire/Yorkshire heartland ( 10 current clubs ) and how they went in the past compared to now.

Torontos and Londons will come and go but in 10 years time it will still be the heartland that matters.

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