Premier League not a sell-out

November 28, 2008

So now we know why the Premier League are so keen on taking matches on tour to Asia: the 39th game might be the only one that’s actually sold out.

According to a Daily Telegraph report, attendances at Premier League games are down by an average of almost a thousand fans per game this season. Even Manchester United have been affected, the report says, with the English and European champions having failed to sell out Old Trafford’s 76,180 seats for any game this season.

Most will see this as a sign that the recession is biting in England. Shelling out a hundred quid for a couple of tickets to a 90-minute show must feel more like a luxury than ever these days. And to quote from the Telegraph story:

It is the surest sign yet that the Premier League is not immune from the global financial downturn. The cost of entry, as well as the price of travel, is too much for fans already feeling the pinch to justify.

But can the Premier League be confident that the fans will all come back when (or perhaps if) the economy picks up? Might fans decide that the live TV menu is a more appetising one, either at home or in the pub? Outside the top four, are there that many games worth watching at sky-high prices?

I saw an interesting piece on Soccer Pie suggesting that influences from abroad are making matches in England more tactical and perhaps less exciting:

Coaches that prefer football with much more tactical tasks are more successful and all beauty of specific Island football is in doubt. Now, some matches are real chess games.

Attendances in Italy and Spain are dropping as well, aren’t they? So should the leagues be worried?


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attendances are dropping in Italy, the San Siro was again half empty for the Champions League on Wednesday. In truth they’ve been dropping for a while irrespective of the recession because of a fall in quality, just like the Premier League I reckon.
What’s more shocking is prices to watch second division matches in England. it costs a whopping 27 pounds for an adult at Blackpool (who’ve lost four on the bounce and have a two sided ground)…

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If I am not wrong, the Bundesliga in Germany is seeing a reversing trend. I may be wrong, given I had forgotten where I read that stadium attendances are still healthy.

Coming from Singapore myself where it has been touted as one of the possible destinations for the ’39th game’, I wonder if the Premier League fans here still welcome the idea. The Premier League has got quite an audience here, that if you follow the coverage the newspapers here give to the league.

Back then when the ’39th game’ idea was first mooted in England, the general sentiment is kind of mixed here. Some welcomed it (given it’s not everyday we get to watch European clubs playing at this side of the world), some said that it’s best the matches remain in England. My reaction at that time was that this will drain the players out, considering of the midweek European matches some has to play as well.

Now with the current economic situation happening around the world at the moment and it has also affected us here, I do not know if this will have any significant impact on the ’39th game’ plan.

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Hi Diana. I think you’re right about the Bundesliga. The attendances are still healthy, partly because there are plenty of cheap tickets available.
The Bundesliga doesn’t make as much money from TV, but it’s doing well all the same.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

And Mark, those prices are just insane. Cheapest tickets for the Bundesliga still under a tenner.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Prices in the Premier League are far too high, it’s not surprising that crowd numbers are down.
And as for this supposedly 39th game, I’ve never heard such a ridiculous money grabbing idea in all my life. Complete farce.

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