The number of tickets still left unsold by West Ham fans and Newcastle fans for Sunday
West Ham fans are looking forward to travelling to their first competitive away game for a year and a half.
For Newcastle United fans, it is the first proper (competitive) home match to be on sale to all supporters since 29 February 2019.
There were 10,000 NUFC fans allowed into the final home Premier League game of the 2020/21 season, slightly less than 20% of the St James Park capacity watching a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on 19 May 2021.
The last proper crowd on Tyneside was the 52,219 who turned up to see a 0-0 Premier League draw with Burnley on 29 February 2019 just before covid lockdown / restrictions came into our lives. Though that ‘proper’ crowd did include 10,000 free season ticket holders, Mike Ashley handing them out in December 2018 to fill the massive empty gaps next to his tat empire adverts inside St James Park.
So turning our attention to Sunday afternoon and the 2pm kick-off, how many West Ham fans and Newcastle United supporters will be inside St James Park.
When it comes to Newcastle United fans, having counted up the number of unsold ordinary tickets via the club’s official online ticket site, as at 7pm there were 3,327 unsold tickets in the ‘normal’ home areas for NUFC supporters, as well as an unknown number of unsold corporate tickets,
As for West Ham fans, they took their time but eventually they have now sold their full away allocation of 3,000 ahead of Sunday ( see image from official West Ham site below).
It doesn’t look set to be a sell-out on Sunday but I think the relatively low number of tickets unsold might surprise NUFC fans, who would probably have expected there to be a higher amount left unsold at this point. Particularly when well over 10,000 season tickets have been left unsold for this 2021/22 season.
I think though that there are unique / special factors in play with this attendance on Sunday.
The novelty / rarity factor of no matches to go to for 18 months for most fans, leading to a ‘must go to’ feeling for a lot of Newcastle supporters now that things are opening up. It is also the case that early matches that fall in the school summer holidays also attract a number of NUFC fans (and kids!) who wouldn’t necessarily go to Premier League matches. The covid-related obstacles preventing many Newcastle supporters heading abroad on holiday will also have helped bump up numbers for this Hammers match.
I think we will get a far better idea when Newcastle host Southampton, with for example around 1,000 Saints supporters inside St James Park on Saturday 28 August, rather than the 3,000 West Ham fans who will be there on Sunday.
The novelty factor will also have swiftly faded, so a big question mark as to how many empty seats there will be in two weeks time when Ralph Hasenhuttl and his Southampton team visit.
Newcastle fans have clearly voted with their feet when it comes to season tickets, how things pan out for Mike Ashley match to match remains to be seen. Especially when it comes to whether he needs to hand out thousands more free season tickets?
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