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What To Make Of GMP Attendance Figures?

Manchester United website, Reds Away, published attendance figures they had received from Greater Manchester Police which showed that the official number given by the club was some way short of the “actual” attendance. One of the more shocking headline figures was that close to 16,000 people bought tickets for a United league game in January but didn’t attend. The average disparity between the club figures and the police figures over the course of the season is around 10,000.

These statistics were quickly picked up by the national press with claims that United have yet to sell even as many 70,000 for a league game this season.

It is usual practice for clubs to publish figures for how many tickets have been sold for games, rather than how many people walked through the turnstiles, as part of the FA rules. This has been highlighted on several occasions at the Emirates this season, particularly in their games against West Brom and Swansea. Whilst there looked to be at least 10,000 empty seats, the club claimed the games were sell outs.

Manchester United have refuted the claims there have been so many empty seats as the GMP figures claim there have been though, which would put our average attendance for all competitions at 61,739 rather than the club’s 73,653. The club said there are 9,000 executive seats at Old Trafford and there are ‘a number of areas that for various logistical reasons are not scanned’, but that the number of unscanned entrants would not account for such a sizeable difference.

However, whilst it is believable that the attendance may be lower for League Cup games, when United field weakened teams and never the first XI, there are several games which would lead you to doubt the reliability of their statistics. For example, GMP figures claim that there were around 6,000 empty seats at Old Trafford for the games against Liverpool and Arsenal. It’s not just common sense that tells you that figure can’t be accurate, but photographic evidence too. If you have a look at the 360 degrees photo from that game it’s clear that the ground is full.  Another example is the Norwich game, with GMP figures claiming there were around 10,000 empty seats, but yet again, the 360 degrees photo proves that isn’t true. They also claim that there were around 4,000 empty seats for the game against Real Madrid. Whilst there are less desirable games for some to attend at Old Trafford it’s ridiculous to claim that the attendance for Liverpool was just 69,933, which questions the credibility of all their figures.

The plot thickened on Friday though when the GMP claimed that they hadn’t made any data available, having obviously not spoken to Amanda Ratcliffe who responded to Dale Aslam from Reds Away.

The GMP are lying about releasing the data but their own data is totally flawed. But why would the press bother to question that eh?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. ak47 says:

    should just get GMP to take those pics and individually count how many people in that stadium, if the numbers differ, then go back to those officers on duty on those days and ask them why they can’t count?
    The stadium is clearly full, i can barely spot one empty seat let alone 5,000 for the Liverpool game.

    But the media have decided just to spin their own story instead of doing proper research to see if those figures are true or not. They’ve not learned their lesson that what the police say is often far from the truth. I suppose it’s fitting in the week Thatcher died that more police lies were released.

  2. Costas says:

    Ok, I am finding out more and more about this story as the day goes on. The one thing I didn’t realize was that the police fugures count those that attended the game and not those that bought tickets. On that note, I don’t think there’s anything suspicious about what the club does. They announce the total number of tickets bought, as they should.

    Even so, the disparity is indeed staggering. An average of 10.000 fans doesn’t attend Old Trafford games even though they’ve bought tickets? It sounds outlandish and based on what I’ve seen (from the telly to be fair), it definitely doesn’t look that way.

  3. Costas says:

    Is there a 360 photo of the Southampton game somewhere available?

  4. King Eric says:

    The dippers game was full as fuck, there are games where there are a row or two of empty seats around me but generally speaking most league games OT is full.

  5. King Eric says:

    As for Madrid game like every European Cup game we lose the first few rows due to the advertising boards or whatever it is so attendance bound to be down.

  6. King Eric says:

    Off topic but was watching that footy show with that prick Fenners and Merson and Oxelaide Chamberlain named the best 11 he has played with. He named Rooney and RVP up top and said Rooney is last to leave training as always practicing shooting and free kicks and such like. Dispels the myth he isn’t arsed although thats for Ingerlund! Still our most important player, when he plays well United do BUT I do think he will be sold this summer. Hope I am wrong. That article on ROM reads raises some good points.

    Adebayour should be ashamed, what a fucking idol unprofessional cunt he is.

    Still reeling from Monday night and the limp display and bizarre team selection but thats been covered. A very odd night all round with arguments breaking out all around me between fellow Reds.

    Had to laugh at Mancini’s comments that sides roll over for United. Fucking idiot. They raise their game 20 per cent.

    We need to get all 3 points tomorrow else it will get VERY nervy. I think we will.

    As for the Champions League draw, a fucking piss take. Every man and his dog knew the two Spanish sides would be kept apart and lo and behold……………………. I actually think the two German sides will progress.

  7. iced earth says:

    stoke will be very hard
    it s like a final we must back on track
    i think that this game is more important than shity game
    if vida is fit i would love to see a team like this

    jones evans vidic evra

    nani carrick tom c kagawa


  8. iced earth says:

    west ham game 3 days later i expect sir alex to rotate his team
    both will be a threat on set pieces we need vida fully fit

  9. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Proper investigation Scott! Well done. Koodos to Away Reds for the hard work and very pleased to see the documentation of the FOI request. Seems properly done from our side.

    Seems the questions need to be raised about GMP methods and the purpose for their numbers.
    As Scott points out, these 360degree photos suggest there is a problem. with the counts.

    Maybe they stop counting, maybe some of the turnstiles don’t report accurately. Possibly the GMP methods don’t actually use club data or direct turnstyle data. But use police manual counts. These would be highly suspect methods.

    Crowd estimates are notoriously inaccurate. And almost always under count.

    It is an important issue though and quite right for Scott to devote a blog on it.

    Lost income alone,
    The police ability to properly staff as well.
    Finally, but our reputation as fans is also at question since we give loads of stick to other clubs for empty seats!

    Loads of posts from bitters saying the only 70K plus game this season was v them. That’s a load of crap for sure!

    Club and GMP need to get together and sort this out. Doesn’t do anyone any favors this!

  10. PanchoTaffy says:

    Little confused here as the letter from that Amanda woman confirms the GMP has the data, but does not give any of the figures. Also, from the letter it is clear that the GMP (at that point) had not released any information other than to confirm they had it.

  11. Mark Nevin says:

    Very good article. These claims are clearly preposterous and you wonder what the motive was for publishing them or why public money was being wasted to do so. If there were 4000 free seats for the Madrid game someone would need to explain why the hell I, along with many other Reds, couldn’t get one.

  12. Goat Peticoat says:

    I found nearly 4600 empty seats at the Liverpool game and have highlighted on the photograph all the empty eats in the picture in red so its clear for you to see.

    We all know whats been going on at OT for years and its about time we owned up. The Glazers have been money laundring for years. For every eat thats empty but “sold” they can pay the tax and then move money gotten from ill gotten gains into the clubs finances. So for every unnatended game, see photo above, we can claim thousands of seats and add nearly £100000 in extra income ” said to have come in”.
    Only last week a truck full of Yorkie Bars was hijacked. We sold half the merchandise making alot of money and have put the money into the club pretending it was fans iincome – the other half Anderson helped us to get rid of.
    This way we can make the FA,UEFA fair play rules and pay upwards of £15million for a yorkie bar dispenser.

    The likely reasoning for this is the police are counting the fans at the game 5 minutes before the end when everyones gone home because they want to beat the rush so they can watch 15 to 1 on tele because its more exciting than having to watch United win win win. Boring.

  13. samuel says:

    Forget stats if you charged Arsenal prices, the proverbial one man and his dog would be in attendance.

  14. Rufusstan says:

    So it is not just us then…

    They stopped announcing attendance figures at the Emirates a while back when the crowd started to openly mock them. As you said, it is down to the PL making clubs report attendances in terms of tickets sold. With a high proportion of season ticket holders in the crowds (60-70%), if a few thousand don’t turn up, the disparity is going to become noticeable.

    I’d suspect for us, and probably at Old Trafford as well, quite a few Season tickets are owned commercially, whether touts, businesses using them for corporate gifts or whatever. That would make things worse as they are less likely to be used for the low profile games, making the gaps more obvious.

    The two things from this: I’d echo the idea of where do the police get their figures from (maybe they use the club’s figures?), and whether the clubs have any incentive (or are allowed) to publicize the actual figures –they obviously have them. Perhaps it is to avoid confusion, or perhaps the clubs are hiding behind the rules to avoid the embarrassment of having to admit the ground is not full. With us, there was a lot of noise about getting accurate figures when they stopped announcing attendances– then everything went very quiet….

    League cup games are the one are I am happy with the attendance reporting. One of the few things I am proud of about the Emirates is that the practice of league cup tickets for a tenner means most are sellouts (or close) without season tickets.

  15. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Goat Cheers mate. Can’t see you marks and look full to me.

    Clearly you can’t see the executive suites though. What ever the upshot, GMP need to get on the same page as the club as this makes both look like complete idiots. There will always be discrepancies between tickets sold ( the only measure that the EPL requires clubs to report) and actual attendance. But when the club has to correct the police is just makes everyone look daft.

    Don’t know what the intention of Reds Away was in highlighting this, but deserves some credit for highlighting a rather embarrassing discrepancy. I do fault the Guardian and Daniel Taylor, and the Mail for some really shoddy reporting.

    GMP, denying the reports authenticity is just laughable on the evidence provided here.

    Oi me. GMP have alway had a pile of blues. This isn’t going to help perceptions at all.

  16. Daniel88 says:

    They are pricing people out of going to games.

  17. glory Glory Holy Trin says:

    Hahaha….man u sucks big time. they have to lie about attendance to show that they have more supporters in manchester. Losers.
    And with the quality of man utd game, no passing, long balls and unimaginative, boring gameplay…
    its no wonder their stupid supporters are lulled to sleep.

    look at man city for inspirational, fun and beautiful passing game. Enjoy their football, you losers.

  18. TheCANTONA says:

    citeh with their 25000 empty seats? hahaha!! idiot. beautiful passing game like against everton and southampton? LOL. what a joke this chelsea fan bubbling about, should more worry about their club chance to play in champions league next season instead gloating at other club…

  19. wayne says:

    Lol definition of a loser a Troll that has to repost the same wind up comments on different threads,doesn’t get anymore pathetic that

  20. TheCANTONA says:

    i’ve checked the pic i couldnt find empty seats in massive number like the GMP has suggest. i do found one row of empty seats on far top but thats hardly contain 4k – 5k. maybe u could tell us more detail then??

  21. wayne says:

    Goat is taking the piss
    watching Everton Moyes has Gibson playing well becoming a important part of Everton’s midfield.Pleased for the lad after all the abuse he took from a group of so called Utd fans.Watching the ‘Arry Houdini head twitch is a sight for sore eyes.

  22. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    and they say United buy refs. Daylight robbery at the emirates.

  23. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Danny Took the words out of my mouth! ;)

    Same ref missed the offside for 4-1 as well.
    Right. United get all the calls. Bolloux! HA

  24. glory Glory Holy Trin says:

    Dont get personal, why dont we talk about passing, accuracy, no. of shots per game, possession, number of passes and number of through balls.
    Don’t believe me you twats, go take a look at

    City is taking a note from Barcelona.

    City are headed in the right direction and soon will become the best team in EPL atleast.
    Man U have been waning. Their midfield cannot manage to even complete 3 passes in sequence these days. RVP just stands there waiting for some miracle to happen, to get the ball to him. Feel sorry for him.

  25. FletchTHEMAN says:

    What’s the smell that just came in the window.

    Deary me…. the neighbors! :roll:

  26. TheCANTONA says:

    city taking a note from barcelona? so after taking alot of money from the middle east asian they still unable to configure their original game plan and instead looking at other team? whahahaha. money well spent then…

  27. TheCANTONA says:

    he is a cunt then

  28. glory Glory Holy Trin says:

    @Cantona – you stupid fuck. You think teams have to have original gameplan? Dumbass. Barcelona, Ajax of yesteryears, Spain all practice the same gameplan ie Total Football. It is not a gameplan, it is a philosophy in football.

    Dumbass, go read and watch games of yesteryears instead of just blindly following man u, you plastic supporter. Mancini is trying to achieve the same philosophy.

  29. Goat Peticoat says:

    When will you ever learn, lol.
    When I marked the empty seats in RED something should have clicked in your head. What colour are the seats again, what colour are the shirts people are wearing? lol.

  30. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Annie Eaves had a rather brilliant idea. What is the away allocation? 3-4.5K maybe. Wonder if GMP don’t count them. The allocation is bigger for cup games and that could explain part of the discrepancy.

    Anyone have an idea of the away allocation at OT. Most stands it is in the neighborhood of 8% But I doubt many teams bring that many.

  31. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Goat :lol: :lol:

    YOu are a twisted sod! Always bring a smile (well sometimes anyway)! Cheers.

  32. Costas says:

    Someone get the frustrated, delusional and bitter virgin out of here. He’s embarrassing himself. Mancini trying to play Total football? Rinus Michels is rolling over on his grave.


    Don’t know if your point about the police doing the head count at the end of the game was also part of your piss taking beforehand, but it could actually be a valid explanation.

  33. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    Millwall fans are just a bunch of complete idiots. They are literally fighting each other and the police. This is unbelievable.

  34. Lawman10 says:

    Millwall fans are a disgrace, don’t think I have ever seen fighting at wembley,
    Hope the FA come down hard these mindless thugs.

  35. Siddo says:

    I haven’t read all the comments so not sure whether this has already been raised, but where do you think the police get their figures from? It can only be the club or an estimate, if you think the cops have some amazing device that can count people going to a match you haven’t really thought this through properly….

  36. Raf's Curling Tongs says:

    The figures from the Norwich City game are obviously a crock of shit. The GMP are basically saying that only 87% of the ground was full??? That’s more than 1 in 10 seats empty. Bollocks.

  37. Stretfordend ryda says:

    The last game I went to was in the league cup vs crystal palace last season, games are way to expensive for me now


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