One of the oft repeated remarks you hear from people following live coverage of our games is “Oooh, aren’t there lots of spaces in the crowd?” and “Aren’t the crowds falling?” and “What bollix, no way is the attendance 60,012!” (OK, scratch the last one, they don’t announce those figures on match days anymore).
So just how much below capacity are our home matches lately?
Below are a series of pictures taken from the Clock End upper tier for the Reading game on March the 30th this year.
The first is taken at 2.54pm so more than 5 minutes before kick-off and before the late arrivals who are caught in traffic/tube chaos or swigging a late pre match soother or nursing a road beer have got to their seats.
The second is taken at 2.59pm, just before kick-off, when one would think late drinkers have arrived but Club level are still quaffing the champers and scoffing the smoked salmon:
The third is at 3.17pm when everyone who intends to attend has arrived and before those hoping to beat the queues for £7.50 slices of microwave pizza have annoyed other people on their row by getting up just as the good guys are about to sling a cross into the oppo’s penalty area. Club level to me still seems only two thirds full – perhaps a warning sign that corporate hospitality is not as steady an income stream as anticipated.
Finally the fourth picture is just before the re start at 4.00pm where it can be seen Club level are still in the quaffing/scoffing stage and the queues for the Gents still snake into the concourse areas in front of the queues for the aforementioned extortionately priced fast food.
Incidentally when the stadium announcer reads out the results of some raffle type competition during the interval once the winner was number 18, at which point yours truly thought Squillacci was a half time sub and almost had an apoplectic fit of panic.
As well as attendances another complaint is early departees, especially during weekday evening fixtures with around up to a quarter of the stadium emptying by the final whistle; however that’s a topic for another day.
At the time of writing Champions League football had not been confirmed and the spectre of Thursday night football hanging over Ashburton Grove, and the attendant consequence of this being Sunday League fixtures replacing the traditional Saturday afternoon ones.
Just how this will affect overall attendances we will hopefully not have to find out, yet the thought of it sends a shiver up and down the spine of gooners and the money men at the Arsenal alike.
Those of the doomer/realist/AWOB persuasion may subscribe to the theory that a year out of Champions League football will get rid of the plastics and return the hard-core supporters to the fore.
While this seems a tad fanciful to me I’ll leave you with the most ludicrous thing I read about in relation to just such a scenario: “If we’re 5th we can get rid of the poncey tourist support and move back to Highbury”!
Move back to Highbury – you what?