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Newcastle v Sunderland crowds in the Premier League era: Who is best supported?

5 years ago

The age old debate – Newcastle v Sunderland crowds.

I apologise in advance if what you are about to read is a regurgitation of stats and facts that you’ve read before.

I love this sort of stuff, it’s great to present evidence when you have an argument, especially if you are in the unfortunate position of having an argument with a Mackem. It’s a debate as old as our rivalry with ‘that lot’.

Which club is bigger or best supported?

We know what the answer is but they are a stubborn and deluded bunch down the road. They won’t admit to being second best and in the current rare climate of being a league below them, it’s not necessarily an argument we need to have but let’s prepare ourselves in case we find ourselves in discussion.

It made me slightly annoyed back in 2009 when we were relegated to read the comment from a Mackem of “They’ve found their level.” I mean, seriously?

Similar things were said at the end of last season, no doubt. Stats can be presented to show whatever you like but they can also demonstrate a very cold reality and it’s one that will chill the most stubborn Mackem to the bone if they are emotionally advanced enough to understand this.

Since the season 1992/93 when the Premier League was a new born baby, our two clubs have had their ups and downs. Slightly more ups than downs to start with for NUFC and probably the opposite for the Red and White portion of the region however, that in itself should not be the driver behind the argument for which support is best.

Both clubs are blessed with a modern stadium. Both clubs have expanded to limits of reason given their respective league performances. On occasion, we’d like a few thousand more seats. For Newcastle United fans, this is usually when we play ‘that lot’ or ManUre, Liverpool, Chelski etc etc. For the Mackems, it would be when Beyonce* or Bon Jovi are in town but, each to their own!

(*Check out Wikipedia for the declared highest attendance at the SOL)

The stats compiled for each club come from the same independent source; (NB. The following stats do not include current 2016/17 season as we should not use average attendances until the season is complete).

Since 1992/93 season, NUFC have spent 22 season in the PL and 2 in D1. SAFC have spent 15 in the PL and 9 in D1. The capacity of SJP has gone from approx 30k to .36700 and up to 52405. In the same time, SAFC have moved from Joker Park (30k approx.) to SOL, starting at 42k which was then expanded to a claimed 49k.

The key question should therefore be ‘How close to full is each stadium; year in, year out?’

NUFC can boast an average of over 95.9% full with variable capacity (45014 avg) for the 24 years in question. SAFC’s comparative figure is 76.7%. with similar variation in capacity (34471 avg.)

“That’s not fair!” scream the Mackems (probably), but SOL had a higher capacity than SJP when it was built, though that lasted only a couple of seasons before we hit our current maximum and they followed suit soon after.

So what about the comparison between the two grounds at their largest? Well, interestingly, NUFC still sit at 95.9% (50238 avg.) while that lot creep up to 79.8% (39113 average attendance).

Our average Premier League finish position is 10th across all 22 seasons we’ve been in it. Theirs is 14th in 15 seasons. Not a huge difference and little to crow about from our point of view. We’ve demonstrated, as a fan base, that we’ve been unhappy with a lack of effort and ambition prior to this season for as long as Mike Ashley has been around (and as long as he’s been round!).

We’ve had our dips in attendance which you would expect and in fairness to our neighbours, they’ve put up with some crap (I really don’t know why they are not more vocal about Ellis Short but maybe their ambition is just to stay in the PL). In that context, it is not surprising that they rarely sell out for football matches (Beyonce on the other hand is a different matter!).

The point of this article is to get the facts into the public domain and focus on what we should be proud of. There is nothing to celebrate in terms of our Premier League performance over the last 10 seasons in the top flight (13th for NUFC, 15th for them). We’ve both under achieved massively in terms of fan base, but one club’s fans are a little more willing to stump up at the turnstile or when renewing a season ticket.

One club’s fans have more right to state that they do support their team through thick and thin (or thin and thinner).

We, the Newcastle United fans, support that club. Regardless of which league we are in this season, we can feel, justifiably, that this season we are getting a little of what we deserve.

For those years turning up in droves only to watch the team let us down (picked and ‘organised’ by Pardew, McClaren, Kinnear and Carver), we now continue to turn out in the usual numbers to get behind the Rafalution.

Long may it continue and don’t let an argument with one of that lot end with them telling you that they are better fans, or even close to as good. They’re not, end of.



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