Crowds in the Football League dropped by six percent in the 2010-11 season, according to figures released by the league today. Despite attendances still being above the 16 million mark for the seventh consecutive season, crowds have failed to match the 50 year high recorded in for the 2009-10 season.
The 2009-10 season saw crowds hit 17.1 million - the highest since the 1959-60 season - but that is now down to 16.1 million. League One was hit the hardest in terms of how crowds have dropped although that was largely down to the freak 21 percent rise during 2009-10 being pushed down by 18 percent for 2010-11, giving an indication of how much clubs benefited through having both Leeds United and Norwich City at third tier level.
Of course, divisional fluctuations are inevitable as fallen giants slip into lower divisions, whilst the randomness of the fixture list computer can add or take away a key fixture that can knock club attendances - the enforced winter break will not have helped many clubs crowds. Football League Chairman Greg Clarke paints the sunny side of the figures, but is mindful of the current economic environment:
"Given the difficult economic climate, it is heartening to see League crowds reaching the sixteen million mark, once again. Our competitions are in good shape and the enduring loyalty shown by fans is a constant encouragement. However, we have to be realistic about the challenges we face as it is unlikely that the state of economy will improve in the near future. The League and its clubs will continue to focus on getting new fans into grounds and ensuring that the clubs they support are sustainable in the long term."
Aside from the significant drop in League One, Championship matches saw a drop of three percent, with average crowds now recording an average of 17,389 spectators per match. However League Two crowds are up by eight percent, taking their average up to 4,162, showing how the make-up of a division on any given season can cause variations on the overall trend. The average League One attendance now stands at 7,527.
As far as Yeovil Town crowds are concerned, they suffered a drop of eight percent during the 2010-11 season, falling to an average of 4,291 - their lowest since the 2001-02 season. With 14 of those League One crowds dropping below the 4,000 mark the average was boosted by a smaller number of key fixtures, largely involving more local clubs.
With at least five South Coast and West Country clubs disappearing out of League One over the summer as Southampton and Brighton and Hove Albion are promoted and Swindon Town, Bristol Rovers and Plymouth Argyle are relegated, the Glovers will have to work hard to avoid that trend continuing. The likes of Sheffield United and Preston North End visiting Huish Park for the first time should help redress that balance somewhat, although it still remains that it is the home fans that the Glovers need to attract back to Huish Park.
Link: Football League Crowds Hit 50 Year High.
Link: Yeovil Town Average Attendances Since 1979.
Link: 2010-11 Highest League One Attendances.
Link: 2010-11 Lowest League One Attendances.
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