The football season will reach the half-way mark during the busy Christmas and New Years’ programme. It gives us a chance to reflect on #matchdayinsights and the ongoing challenges facing clubs.
As we look down the Premier League and Championship league tables of % stadium occupancy it’s interesting to focus on a couple of clubs in highlighting some of the dynamics at play.
Are clubs doing enough with their brands and marketing campaigns to fill their stadiums?
West Bromwich Albion currently sit a very respectable 8th in the Premier League table yet are only 18th overall in our attendance tracking table. Average stadium occupancy at the Hawthorns this season has been 88.97%. Some fans expressed concern at Tony Pulis’ appointment, being wary of his pragmatic style of play. There was a small downside; stadium occupancy was down on last season's average (92.02%) at the start of the season was consistent with occupancies of 88.37% and 88.50% for the early visits of Everton and Middlesbrough.
After a great recent run of four wins in seven games West Brom achieved 97.98% occupancy last weekend against Manchester United, yet only three days previously they recorded their lowest attendance of the season against Swansea with occupancy down at 79.95%. This demonstrates the importance of season ticket sales in ensuring a full stadium for the less attractive fixtures, even when the team is performing well.
Manchester United's visit to the Hawthorns has boosted the average occupancy to 88.97%. Prior to this match the average was 5% down on the previous season's average of 92.02%. This begs the question; what does a sustained 5% drop in attendance mean for a clubs revenues and are clubs doing enough to tackle it?
Sheffield Wednesday are also having a good season, currently placed sixth in the Championship heading into Christmas. They boast both the fourth highest average attendance; 27,106, and fourth biggest stadium in the league. However in terms of filling Hillsborough’s 39,814 seats they only have the 15th best average occupancy rate in the division at 68.08%.
Wednesday started the season with the visits of two of the highest profile and best supported clubs in the division. Hillsborough was at 75.50% for the victory over Aston Villa and followed that up with 73.03% for the Yorkshire derby with Leeds Utd. They have not since achieved an occupancy of over 70% following these games, getting close for the visit of Nottingham Forest with 68.69% and the two recent local derbies versus Barnsley and Rotherham also drew occupancies over 68%.
The club will look to build on this momentum as they plan their membership and season ticket sales campaigns for the 2017/18 season in the New Year and look to regularly push into the 70% occupancy range.
Casting a glance to the Premier League table, West Ham have had tremendous success in filling their new stadium despite the teething problems experiences in settling in; is this because of their ongoing commitment to outbound advertising which has been prevalent online and in the daily press? Are clubs missing out on ticket sales due to a lack of marketing?
Keep an eye on the Atomic Sport blog and twitter account @AtomicSportt for regular #MatchdayInsight and analysis.