No matter how much money is spent on players and how many trophies are won, Manchester City still never seem to be able to fill their stadium.
Their fans have become very defensive about the issue, claiming there might be the odd seat here and there, whereas for visiting fans and those watching on TV there are clearly thousands of empty seats every match.
Using the Freedom of Information, BBC Sport asked every Police force to provide figures for what were the actual crowds (number of people who went to the games) at each Premier League club in the 2017/18 season, to find out whether they tallied with the claimed ‘attendances’ that were announced after each match.
As BBC Sport explain:
‘Most teams in the Premier League choose to publicise the number of tickets sold for a game rather than the number of people actually in the stadium. That means they include season ticket holders who don’t attend, and complimentary tickets that are not used.
They are not breaking any rules by choosing this method.
According to the Sports Ground Safety Authority, clubs are required by law to know the number of people attending each game for safety reasons and plan in advance for expected attendances. They do not need to release this information, however, and authorities broadly accept there is sometimes a difference between publicised attendance figures and those obtained by BBC Sport.’
BBC Sport were knocked back the majority of Police forces who said they did not hold that information and simply directed them to the figures published by clubs.
However, they had better joy with seven clubs.
With Manchester United, it was claimed that their figures exactly tallied, announced crowds the same as how many actually showed up.
However, the six others were significantly different, massively so in the cases of Manchester City and West Ham.
BBC Sport true attendances stats:
As you can see, the figures for West Ham and Manchester City were based on the stats from 12 home matches each.
For West Ham it showed an average of 42,779 attending games and not the claimed 55,309 – a huge 12,530 less.
Meanwhile, Manchester City were almost as bad, their crowds 7,482 less on average, 45,792 and not the reported 53,274.
The overall (reported) average attendances for the full 2017/18 season are below.
Table via Soccer Stats:
Whilst BBC Sport were unable to get any exact figure response regarding Newcastle United, that 52,157 average attendance should be pretty close to the true figure of how many actually attended. Any empty seats last season certainly not taking the average down under 50,000, never mind anywhere near the 42k and 45k attendances for West Ham and Manchester City respectively.
At Anfield, Liverpool always looks full, whilst clearly Man Utd and Spurs were well out of reach last season.
However, it looks clear that Newcastle had at least the fifth highest average crowds last season, and whilst there are no true figures for Arsenal this time, they are regular offenders in the past when it comes to crowd figures not matching up to the truth. Last season the Emirates looked like it had even more empty than usual as their poor fans didn’t finish top four, so I would hazard a guess that there is every chance Newcastle’s crowds were very close to or even higher than Arsenal’s last time.
This season however, it is already looking like Mike Ashley has at last managed to sicken enough fans so that St James Park won’t sell out regularly, if at all. The Chelsea and Spurs games didn’t sell out and Arsenal still has seats available three days ahead of the game, these three attractive matches usually sell out straight away, plus all three clubs have sold their full 3,2000 away allocation.