Full House? The importance of our support…
Over the past few seasons there as been a definite correlation in attendance and results. For example, the Sky Bet Championship winners Newcastle averaged a crowd of 51,106 per game, partly due to the promise of good results through Rafa Benitez’s appointment. The team with the 4th highest attendance, Brighton, also got promoted after averaging about 28,000 per game. Whilst the crowds at Huddersfield were smaller, their average gate was about 2,600 higher than our own at B9. You might argue that the only reason that the promoted teams have a higher attendance is because the gate count spiked following their good starts to the season, but this isn’t always the case… Newcastle’s lowest home crowd number of the whole season came against QPR, when it was ‘only’ at 47,909. Similarly Brighton’s lowest numbers were 24,166, and Huddersfield’s was a respectable 18,333. Not one of these teams lowest crowds came towards the start of the season when they had not yet picked up form, in fact most were around the Christmas period as one might expect.
Attendance isn’t the only factor effecting a teams performance, but it is a major one. There has been a lot of news surrounding ticket prices lately, especially given that the investment each club makes from Sky airing games is increasing all the time, surely this means clubs can allow ticket prices to drop? At the minute many Premier League clubs and even championship clubs charge extortionate prices and it’s understandable why fans are getting frustrated – why head up to watch a game on a cold mid-week fixture to see your ground empty and to find that your team has barely bothered to show up? A lot of away fixtures in the Championship are more expensive than those in the Premier League, and whilst the average price of season tickets have gone back down to the lowest they have been since 2013, 36% of ticket prices in the division went up compared to the 15/16 season study – the biggest percentage increase across the men’s leagues in the UK. The average cost of the cheapest match-day ticket has gone up to £22.11 – a six-year high – while the most expensive match-day tickets averaged £36.13.
The Blues, like various of our other Championship rivals, have put a price fix on all season tickets in all areas. This is the fourth consecutive year we have done this and although it’s a good start, the crowds are hardly building up at all, not that the results of late have helped so much either. However, clubs like Aston Villa are still outdoing us, even though our season ticket sales are hitting record numbers in the first few weeks of their release. It is rumoured that Villa have already sold 30,000 season tickets.
Most of all I envy German football, their smallest teams would put Englands biggest teams to shame when you look at their crowds. HSV just survived relegation this year, and yet they averaged a home crowd of 52,300 every game. Borrusia Dortmund finished third place, but averaged home crowds of about 80,000 thanks to the club providing reasonably priced season tickets that lead 55,000 to renew their season ticket, which is 99.85% of season ticket holders from the 15/16 season.
However, don’t try and blame the club so much, the kids for one pound on school holidays has gone down fantastically, and last season it was discovered that the Blues were the cheapest Championship day out at only £23.10 per person, should you exclude your travel and probably rather high drinking costs that is. Whilst it still isn’t a cheap day out, it’s getting there. At least we are not paying for tickets for a season in League One and are instead looking forward to a promotion push under Redknapp.
It’s up to us now, as fans we had fantastic away support, but our home support was very poor for a club of our size. The clubs doing their part in trying to bring down prices, and now we too have to jump on board the Redknapp revolution in what should be an exciting push for promotion this season. Studies based on a clubs location suggest that Birmingham City FC should have the second highest amount of fans in the UK. If this were true we should be filling St Andrews every week, we had decent crowds in the Premier League and over 31,000 fans turned up for the Carling Cup final against Arsenal. We had a full house against Huddersfield following Redknapp’s appointment, and it was brilliant to see the Upper Gill Merrill open again and a truly fortified St Andrews to greet the travelling players. Whilst Huddersfield might not have played their strongest team, the Blues did play well that day, especially under the circumstances of Adam’s red card and a penalty miss, and the crowd certainly helped back the squad.
It’s clear we have the potential to average about 30,000 per game but it’s about enticing the fans back to the club after a few unmemorable seasons. If Harry Redknapp’s appointment, a potential promotion push and a £30 million transfer budget isn’t enough to entice bigger crowds, I don’t know what is.
Get behind the boys in royal blue, KRO!!!
Comment below whether you think match tickets, season tickets and away tickets are fairly priced, and whether you have renewed your own season ticket or thinking of getting one for the coming season?
By Joel Grenan