The Barclays Premier League Mid-Season Attendance Review

There are 38 total gameweeks in the Barclays Premier League season for 2014/15, with half the season played in 2014, and the other half played in 2015.  We’ve had our first gameweek of 2015 on new years day, which was full of surprises and entertainment, and with this second gameweek just this past weekend, the second half of the season is fully underway. What about the 190 games before that in 2014 though?

We’ve done week by week breakdowns of attendance figures but in this feature we’re taking an overall view at the whole first half of the season.

While a vast majority of games were held on Saturday, Sunday and on occasion Monday, by the end of the year, every day of the week had been used to stage a BPL game. In those 191 games that represent the completed first half of the season, there was a total aggregate attendance of 6,839,418 across every game, -130,150 less than at the midway point of the 2013/14 season.

The emptiest any venue has been during a game so far has been at Sunderland away at Villa Park.  Aston Villa fans this season have not been showing and the club has the worst attendance statistics in the league with that game in particular showing attendance at only 59.3% of capacity, which is 25,311 fans.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there have been a total of 6 sellout matches according to Premier League released attendance compared to Premier League handbook stadium capacities. QPR are the primary club responsible for the number of sellouts with 5/6 being at Loftus Road and the 6th going to West Bromwich Albion when they hosted Newcastle United at the Hawthorns. 6 sellouts is exactly half the number of sellouts that had occurred by this time last season, but just like QPR this season, Cardiff were responsible for most of the sellouts prior to January with 9/12.

Attendance can many times be a statistic of angles, whereby the same number is effectively looked at through different perspectives to maybe illuminate a more full picture.  This has attempted to be the process of Business of Soccer this season and while total attendance may be a nice large number, the question is, is it representative of the trend and how does it compare to previous years?  

Breaking down those 6,839,418 fans, on average there were 35,997 at any game. Naturally, with aggregate numbers down compared to last season, the average is also lower than at the midway point last season.  As a point of reference, average attendance per game did increase by the end of the season, but only marginally by 47 fans per game. One caveat to this angle to consider when comparing years is the average capacity as well.  Fundamentally, attendance numbers are completely dependent on the capacity of each venue and the specific host venue of each game week.

The average stadium capacity of all clubs in the Premier League for this season, according to the League handbook, is 37,753 and for the first half of the season, the average was close to that, coming in at 37,663.  This can make a difference when comparing average attendances and looking at last season, as the average capacity over the first half of last season was 38,263 while the average for the full season last year was 38,230.  In the end, average attendance during the first half of this season may appear down compared to last year, however, the reality is that the difference in the average attendance per match, 594 fans, is almost the exact same as the difference between the average capacities between the two years, 600 seats, which makes it difficult to argue whether one season outperformed the other.  

That difference is further displayed in how full stadiums were for the first half of the season. on average, for 2014/15 stadiums were 95.3% full compared to 95.5% full during the first half of 2013/14.  Continuing the trend set by average attendance, 2013/14’s capacity fill-rate did improve when you continue through the end of the season, finishing at 95.81%, but that number isn’t too significant of an increase versus the mid-way point.

Overall, between this season and last season there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference in terms of attendance, though technically last season does have a slight edge in terms of the numbers, and if last season’s trends continue this season, then attendance figures could increase a little but overall remain around the levels achieved so far, barring any unforeseen events.

As mentioned at the beginning, every single day of the week has been used to stage a Barclays Premier League match. One disclosure to make is that technically that statement requires us to crossover into the second half of the season by one week. All the attendance figures above are taken from the first 19 gameweeks and represent a pure half of  a season, but technically it was not until gameweek 20 that EVERY day of the week was used (Thursday had not bee used until new years day).   

That being said, it doesn’t disqualify the focus on attendance by looking at days of the week.  Looking at the numbers, Wednesday jumps out first, by far the highest average attendance of any day of the week, also the highest average capacity.  Both numbers sit well above season averages with attendance being 11.8% above the half-season average and the average Wednesday capacity happens to be 14.5% higher than the half-season average.

Interestingly enough, Wednesday only constituted half of a gameweek.  Gameweek 14 was split in half between a Tuesday and a Wednesday of the same week.  Looking at Tuesday’s numbers, they’re much lower than Wednesday’s and actually sits 5% below the half-season average attendance and 6% below the half-season average capacity. If you combine them into one gameweek, which is still 1/19 of the data taken into the half-season attendance numbers, they still sit above average in terms of numbers with an average attendance of 37,175 and an average home team capacity of 39,271, though they sit 1% below the half-season average fill rate at 94%.

Moving on, lets look at New Years Day and Boxing Day, the only Thursday and Friday gameweeks respectively. Wednesday may have had the highest numbers but Friday certainly outperformed every other day.  It maintained attendance, capacity  and fill rate.  Stadiums on Boxing Day were 98% full, on average.  

If Boxing Day outperformed, then New Years Day underperformed, but only slightly. Attendance was lower than the season average but not by much, and capacity was lower as well.  Fill rate is what saves the day a little because even though 94.8% fill rate is lower than the 95.3% average for the first half of the season, it means that on average it would have only taken 300 fans per stadium to bring the week up o par in terms of fill rate.

Getting to the meat of the 2014/15 season, Saturday, Sunday and Monday are like the rest of the season – a mixed bag of results.  Monday definitely performs the worst  despite having a significantly lower capacity to fill, showing the lowest fill-rate of any day of the week thus far.  Saturday and Sunday have their own highlights because while Sunday sits above average in both average attendance and capacity and maintains the season average fill rate of 95.3%, Saturday sits only slightly below both season averages of attendance and capacity and actually maintains a slightly higher fill rate at 95.6%.

No matter the day of the week, it seems like regardless of the atmosphere, the Premier League is electric with so many matches effectively feeling like a sellout even if they aren’t quite at 100% capacity.  There is a reason why new players and managers to the Premier League tend to comment on the energy the crowds bring and how full the venues are for every game.

Overall, 2014/15 hasn’t disappointed both in terms of attendance or on field performance and fans in the stands will look to see that replicated in the second half of the season.


What do you think about the attendance breakdown for the Premier League for the first half of the 2014/15 season? Let us know in the comments section below, or via Facebook or Twitter.

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