After an on going discussion over what portion of Manchester was red and what was blue, I had a look at attendances of the season just gone.

Despite the fact that more fans have come to watch United play than City every single season since 1947, long before the glory supporters from outside of Manchester, which therefore suggests United is the more popular team to have been passed down from one generation to the next, you often hear people (usually who have never been to Manchester) suggesting City is the more popular team in Manchester.

Comparing United’s attendances to City’s now proves nothing over the allegiance of Manchester, given how many fans from outside Manchester now come to Old Trafford.

However, when you compare City’s attendances to other clubs in the league, it further dismisses the blue myth. If Manchester is blue, why do they have so many empty seats on a weekly basis? Their stadium doesn’t even seat 50,000 people, yet every week, regardless of ticket price, regardless of opponents, they fail to sell all their tickets. Anyone who lives in Manchester knows the truth, City fans included, but it’s nice to have some statistics to support that truth.

I therefore thought it would be interesting to look at the attendances of the original old four, as well as those aspiring to be a part of it, and how well these teams have been supported so far this season.

However, there are several things to consider which don’t make the stats as accurate as you would like when comparing.

1. Away end
The away section obviously has an impact on the overall attendance. I can only speak on behalf of inside Old Trafford but the away sections were particularly and surprising poorly filled against Wigan and Blackburn. Here’s a picture of all the empty seats in the away corner against Wigan, for example. I assume this plays a part in all of the stadiums and can make some mark on the figures, but isn’t anything substantial. For example, Manchester City’s away allocation contributes to 6% of all seats in the ground and so if you imagine their away end was just 2/3 full, 2% of their ground’s overall empty seats could be attributed to the away fans.

2. Ticket prices
The price of tickets obviously plays a part in how high the attendance is, with lots of fans being put off attending because of prices or simply not be able to afford to attend as much as they would like. Some clubs run prices by category, so whilst higher category games are more expensive, they are also more popular to attend. (e.g. an Arsenal fan could be charged over £94 to watch Arsenal vs Spurs, a Category A game, but obviously would be more eager to watch that than a Category B game against Wolves, which could cost £35)

Looking at the stats for Europe, it stands to reason Champions League games (which effects Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs) are more expensive than Europa League games (which effects Liverpool and Manchester City)

Here are the average season ticket prices to give an indication of how expensive watching football is at each of these clubs, and therefore, how affordable it is for a fan to regularly attend.

Manchester City- £485.62
Liverpool – £716.25
Manchester United – £730.00
Chelsea – £822.50
Tottenham – £925.71
Arsenal – £1,177.50

3. Boycott
Manchester United are in the midst of a protest against the owners, with 60,000+ having already given up their season ticket since 2005 and even more refusing to step inside the ground whilst the Glazers are still at the club.

4. Capacity
Obviously it’s easier to sell out grounds when you have a smaller capacity. Here is the total possible capacity of the grounds in comparison to the largest, Old Trafford.

Old Trafford: 75,957
Emirates: -15,602
City of Manchester: -28,131
Anfield: -30,595
Stamford Bridge: -34,116
White Hart Lane: -39,647

So here are the stats:

Manchester City – Europe

Ahead of the first Europa League game, City were offering tickets to all three group stage games for a total of £50, working out at £17 a game.

On the day of the Juventus game, they were selling tickets for £10 (£5 for under-16s).

On the day of the Salzburg game, they were selling tickets for £5 (£1 for under-16s).

vs Salzburg – 10,274 empty seats. 21% empty.
vs Juventus – 12,614 empty seats. 26% empty.
vs Timisoara – 24,282 empty seats. 51% empty.

Average: 32.7% empty

Manchester City – Premiership

vs Arsenal – 433 empty seats. 0.9% empty.
vs United – 616 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Chelsea – 623 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Liverpool – 739 empty seats. 2% empty.
vs Newcastle – 1,759 empty seats. 4% empty.
vs Birmingham – 3,505 empty seats. 7% empty.
vs Blackburn – 3,580 empty seats. 7% empty.

Average: 3.3% empty

Average in Europe and League: 12.9% empty

Liverpool – Europe

vs Trabzonspor – 4,421 empty seats. 10% empty.
vs Napoli – 11,467 empty seats. 25% empty.
vs Steaua Bucharest – 19,757 empty seats. 44% empty.

Average: 26.3% empty

Liverpool – Premiership

vs Arsenal – 640 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Cheseal – 1,124 empty seats. 2% empty.
vs Sunderland – 1,736 empty seats. 4% empty.
vs Blackburn – 2,034 empty seats. 4% empty.
vs Blackpool – 2,206 empty seats. 5% empty.
vs West Ham – 2,336 empty seats. 5% empty.
vs West Brom – 4,168 empty seats. 9% empty.

Average: 4.3% empty

Average in Europe and League: 10.9% empty

Tottenham Hotspur – Europe

vs Inter – 0 empty seats. 0% empty.
vs Young Boys – 1,601 empty seats. 4% empty.
vs Werder Bremen – 2,764 empty seats. 8% empty.
vs FC Twente – 3,792 empty seats. 10% empty.

Average: 5.5% empty

Tottenham Hotspur – Premiership

vs Everton – 343 empty seats. 0.9% empty.
vs Liverpool – 348 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Wolves – 370 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs City – 382 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Villa – 439 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Sunderland – 476 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Blackburn – 610 empty seats. 2% empty.
vs Wigan – 1209 empty seats. 3% empty.

Average: 1.4% empty

Average in Europe and League: 2.7% empty

Chelsea – Europe

vs Spartak Moscow – 1,365 empty seats. 3% empty.
vs Marseille – 1,166 empty seats. 3% empty.
vs MSK Milina – 1,575 empty seats. 4% empty.

Average: 3.3% empty

Chelsea – Premiership

vs Arsenal – 13 empty seats. 0.03% empty.
vs Blackpool – 80 empty seats. 0.2% empty.
vs Wolves – 89 empty seats. 0.2%
vs Fulham – 248 empty seats. 0.6% empty.
vs West Brom – 252 empty seats. 0.6% empty.
vs Sunderland – 769 empty seats. 2% empty.
vs Stoke – 910 empty seats. 2% empty.

Average: 0.8% empty

Average in Europe and League: 1.6% empty

Manchester United – Europe

United’s attendances, particularly in the league, will make disappointing reading for those encouraging a boycott

vs Rangers – 1,549 empty seats. 2% empty.
vs Bursaspor – 3,347 empty seats. 4% empty.

Average: 3% empty

Manchester United – Premiership

vs Wolves 672 empty seats. 0.9% empty.
vs West Brom – 685 empty seats. 0.9% empty.
vs Spurs – 734 empty seats. 0.9% empty.
vs Newcastle – 736 empty seats. 0.9% empty.
vs Liverpool – 744 empty seats. 0.9% empty.
vs West Ham – 896 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Blackburn – 1,107 empty seats. 1% empty.
vs Wigan – 1,776 empty seats. 2% empty.

Average: 1% empty

Average in Europe and League: 1.6% empty

Arsenal – Europe 60,355 seated

vs Shakhtar Donetsk – 339 empty seats. 0.6% empty.
vs Braga – 1,022 empty seats. 2% empty.

Average: 1.3% empty

Arsenal – Premiership

vs Spurs – 253 empty seats. 0.4% empty.
vs West Ham – 269 empty seats. 0.4% empty.
vs Birmingham – 285 empty seats. 0.5% empty.
vs Newcastle – 269 empty seats. 0.5% empty.
vs Blackpool – 323 empty seats. 0.5% empty.
vs West Brom – 330 empty seats. 0.5% empty.
vs Bolton – 479 empty seats. 0.8% empty.

Average: 0.5% empty

Average in Europe and League: 0.7% empty

Conclusions

– Arsenal have been the best supported team this season. Despite having the highest ticket prices, they have more bums on seats than any other ground in the country.

– If United weren’t in the midst of 5+ year boycott, it stands to reason they would have the lowest % of empty seats. Regardless, so far this season, United have sold 180,056 more tickets than Arsenal for league games this season. There is a difference of 276,779 ticket sales between United and City in the league so far this season.

– City have had more empty seats for European games this season than Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, United or Spurs.

– Liverpool have had more empty seats for league games this season than Arsenal, Chelsea, City, United or Spurs.

– City have by far the cheapest tickets, for both league and European games (particularly for European games), but this is not reflected by the attendance, with City having a larger % of empty seats for European games, and only Liverpool having a larger % of empty seats for league games.




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