If you ever needed to know just how much the positivity at Newcastle United is down to Rafa Benitez, just take a look at the average attendances.
At St James Park, a total of 1,175,484 Newcastle fans (and visitors) have attended the 23 Championship games, at an average of 51,108.
Over the course of the 23 home matches, St James Park saw an astonishing 437,000 more fans attending than Villa Park, the Championship club with the next highest average (nineteen thousand less than Newcastle).
However, it is only when you take this season’s average attendances in a wider context, do you really get the true impact of the Rafa factor.
The 2000/01 season was the first after St James Park had been expanded to its current 52,000+ capacity.
In the first seven seasons the average only once dropped below 51,309, falling to 50,686 in 2006/07.
Mike Ashley took over ahead of the 2007/08 season and the following eight years after that initial season under the new owner, never saw NUFC achieve average attendances to match that lowest (50,686) figure before he arrived.
In fact five of the eight seasons saw the average fall under fifty thousand and drop as low as 47,717 in 2010/11 in the Premier League.
However, under Rafa Benitez, fans have flocked to support him and his team and despite the second tier football, this past season’s 51,108 average is the highest one since that early optimism of the first season after Ashley bought the club.
This proves a couple of things…
Firstly, given some hope and belief, Newcastle fans will turn up in massive numbers to support the team.
Secondly, even though so many supporters don’t trust/like Mike Ashley, they will ignore that if they have a Manager (and team) they can believe in and trust.
This has been a remarkable season in so many ways.
Pre-Mike Ashley Newcastle United average attendances:
2001/02 51, 372
2004/05 – 51,844
2005/06 – 52,032
2006/07 – 50,686
Under Mike Ashley Newcastle United average attendances:
2007/08 – 51,320
2008/09 – 48,749
2009/10 – 43,387
2010/11 – 47,717
2011/12 – 49,935
2012/13 – 50,517
2013/14 – 50,395
2014/15 – 50,359
2016/17 – 51,108
(Thanks to @bigchrisholt for the season by season table of average attendances above).
Championship matches at St James Park 2016/17:
52,079 Newcastle v Huddersfield
48,209 Newcastle v Reading
49,196 Newcastle v Brighton
52,117 Newcastle v Wolves
48,236 Newcastle v Norwich
51,885 Newcastle v Brentford
51,963 Newcastle v Ipswich
51,257 Newcastle v Cardiff
52,092 Newcastle v Blackburn
52,145 Newcastle v Birmingham
52,179 Newcastle v Sheffield Wednesday
52,208 Newcastle v Rotherham
47,909 Newcastle v QPR
52,271 Newcastle v Derby
50,024 Newcastle v Aston Villa
52,131 Newcastle v Bristol City
51,903 Newcastle v Fulham
51,849 Newcastle v Wigan
48,814 Newcastle v Burton
52,301 Newcastle v Leeds
50,212 Newcastle v Preston
52,276 Newcastle v Barnsley
(Apologies – This article originally showed the 2007/08 season mistakenly before Mike Ashley too over, rather than being his first season)
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])