Premier League: Attendance Reporting Up To Clubs
Comments made by the FA Premier League to World Sports Law Report suggest that attendance figures may not accurately reflect the number of people at its grounds.
The Guardian recently highlighted the issue in an article, receiving confirmation from Arsenal that its attendance figure reflects the number of tickets sold, rather than actual bums on seats. The club told the newspaper that as many as 3% of ticket holders – more than 1,800 people – did not take their seats for the 11 February game against Wigan, where a near-capacity attendance of 60,049 was reported.
An FA Premier League spokesperson said that it is for a club to decide how attendance figures are calculated. Apparently, some clubs base attendance on tickets sold and others on ‘gate receipts’, i.e. the number of ticket holders passing through the turnstiles.
Bolton Wanderers recently became the first Premier League club to cut season ticket prices, following concern that high ticket prices, coupled with widespread availability of football on television, may be keeping fans on the sofas and away from the turnstiles. Wigan have also reduced the cost of certain games this season, following concerns over empty seats.
If the FA Premier League wishes to retain the impression that all of its grounds are 100% full all of the time, perhaps it could introduce a rule requiring all clubs to base their attendance figures on numbers of tickets sold. Conversely, if it thinks its clubs should take action to remedy the empty seats appearing on television screens and in newspapers (which both sponsors and broadcasters, who provide revenue, hate to see), perhaps it should require its clubs to report attendance based on gate receipts.