Opinion: Super League attendance drop should cause concern

Only four Super League clubs were able to post increases on their regular season average attendance in 2014, as overall crowds took a tumble in Super League compared to last season, which was also a season in which almost all clubs registered a decline in attendances.

After the completion of all 27 rounds of the regular season at the weekend, ten clubs saw their year-on-year average go down from the 2013 figures, including defending Super League champions Wigan.

The Warriors had two games with over 20,000 fans in attendance over the course of the regular season, but their average attendance went down – from 14,545 in 2013 to 14,102 this time around. Leeds also saw their average crowd go down by only a slender amount, as their figure of 15,200 last year dipped to an average of 15,068 in 2014.

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Table-topping St Helens were one of the four sides who saw their average crowd go up, as almost 1,000 more people crammed into Langtree Park every week on average in 2014, with their average attendance going up from 11,235 to 12,120.

Salford Red Devils were another who saw a large increase in their average gate, with 4,738 their average – well up on the 3,178 the club posted in 2013. Castleford’s average gate went up past the 7,000 barrier in 2014, whilst Hull Kingston Rovers were the other club who saw an increase in their gates, too.

After their move to The Hive ahead of the 2014 season, London Broncos’ average gate dropped below the 2,000 mark – from 2,200 in 2013 all the way down to just 1,295 people this season.

The average attendance for the whole competition, excluding the Magic Weekend, was 8,153, which was a drop of about 4 per cent from the 2013 season.

The attendance figures for each club in the 2014 regular season (2013 in brackets):

Bradford Bulls: 6,891 (8,575)
Castleford Tigers: 7,068 (6,292)
Catalan Dragons: 7,667 (8,179)
Huddersfield Giants: 6,335 (6,374)
Hull FC: 11,159 (11,680)
Hull Kingston Rovers: 7,848 (7,495)
Leeds Rhinos: 15,068 (15,200)
London Broncos: 1,295 (2,200)
Salford Red Devils: 4,738 (3,178)
St Helens: 12,120 (11,235)
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: 4,351 (7,973)
Warrington Wolves: 9,870 (10,633)
Widnes Vikings: 5,635 (6,015)
Wigan Warriors: 14,102 (14,545)

The decline is clearly a cause of some concern, and no doubt the RFL will use the figures to justify the changes in the league structure that will take effect next season.

We hope that if the RFL’s analysis is correct we will then see an upsurge in attendances in 2015.

It’s the very least that Super League deserves.