European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

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European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

Post by Scottish » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:46 am

Having said in my book ‘The ROAR of the Crowd’ in 2005 that as a percentage of population, attendances in Scotland were higher than anywhere in continental Europe and surpassed in UEFA by only Cyprus and Iceland, I wanted to see if that was still the case following falling gates in recent years.

There have been a number of other surveys posted on various sites over the past few years, including one by the esteemed HibeeJibee which was expressed as a ratio of population (i.e. 1 in so many watch a game) and some which were spectacularly out – though that’s down to the mathematical skills (or lack thereof) of the compilers. One of those claimed almost 10% of Faroese attended the average match. That would mean an average attendance of almost 5,000 per game, which is patently absurd. The same site’s figures for Scotland would mean almost 150,000 per week, which is also a non-starter. That kind of figure is only ever approached on those rare occasions when the Old Firm are both at home and even then hardly ever. The highest number in 2012-13 for a full set of matches was in week 5 (SPL), 4(SFL) with a total of 146,574.

A word on the how the figures were arrived at. To simply take the match average means nothing by itself. The average for the SPL last season was 10,022. But that figure cannot be taken in isolation and extrapolated as a percentage of the weekly number of spectators. What we have to do to find the percentage of the population which watches football every week is to multiply the average by the number of games played. Thus in last season’s SPL we have a figure of 60,132 (10,022 x6) for each round of matches. That comes out at 1.136% every week or every round of fixtures (rounded up) out of a population of approximately 5,295,000.

Another problem is that while the attendance figures are pretty reliable, population is not as it fluctuates constantly, in an upward direction for some countries and downwards for others. I have used the latest figures available for both crowds and population. Any other anomalies I have dealt with in the footnotes.

These figures are for top divisions only as to try and find total figures as a percentage is impossible. Most leagues have only two national divisions with figures for their pyramid systems below that difficult to come by. Many of the level two leagues are not regarded as highly as others, even in the larger countries. In France last season just three teams in level two averaged five figure gates while in England, Peterborough United were the only one of 24 clubs which didn’t. With five national divisions the English structure goes down more levels on a national basis than any other. If it were possible to construct full figures for all clubs in all countries down to level five then England would probably come higher up the rankings or at the very least extend their advantage over the other 'big five' countries substantially. The only country to match England below level one is Germany, which has three national levels with averages much the same as England. However as a percentage of population the ratio of spectators to population at these levels is much lower in Germany than in England.

The Netherlands in 7th, are the top country with a population of over 10M (a shade under17M). At 13th, England are the best of the “big five". Spain are 15th, Germany 17th, Italy 20th & France trail in at 27th.

Scotland has, as we know, four national levels, but in addition to the senior levels below that, we also have over 150 Junior clubs whose figures are not quantifiable. So I hope you can understand why this exercise has, of necessity, been restricted to top divisions only.

All figures expressed as a % of total population
Faroe Islands 5.224
San Marino 4.495
Cyprus 2.443 1
Iceland 1.925
Scotland 1.136 2
Norway 1.130
Netherlands 1.051
Belgium 0.829
Switzerland 0.777
Portugal 0.730
Denmark 0.724
Montenegro 0.700
England 0.678 3
Sweden 0.609
Spain 0.600
Luxembourg 0.510
Germany 0.469
Israel 0.452
Austria 0.404
Italy 0.379
Czech Republic 0.364
Greece 0.349
Croatia 0.334
Macedonia 0.334
Albania 0.325
Malta 0.319
France 0.301
Bosnia 0.287
Bulgaria 0.285
Serbia 0.284
Northern Ireland 0.273
Slovakia 0.231
Finland 0.227
Hungary 0.226
Ukraine 0.225
Romania 0.219
Slovenia 0.217
Ireland (ROI) 0.211
Kazakhstan 0.177
Poland 0.176
Turkey 0.154
Georgia 0.132
Belarus 0.130
Lithuania 0.123
Azerbaijan 0.108
Moldova 0.096
Armenia 0.089
Latvia 0.089
Russia 0.074
Estonia 0.070
Wales 0.055 4
Andorra ? 5
Gibraltar ? 5
Liechtenstein N/A 6

Conclusions

We can see therefore that Scotland is fifth. I don’t think that’s actually a drop in position, more likely my failure to even think of the Faeroes & San Marino in the first place. Unsurprising perhaps as these countries are respectively 51st and 52nd of what until recently was 53 UEFA members My assertion in the book about no country with a population of over a million having better proportionate attendance figures than Scotland remains true. Cyprus has a population of over a million but it is less than that with the Turkish north taken out of the calculations.

It is possible that Norway may overtake Scotland this season and/or next season. They would need to reach an average of around 8,450 to overtake Scotland. They’ve had that and better in the recent past but would need a jump of around 20% to achieve it now. Even if that happened, once Rangers are back in the top flight, normal service will be resumed. The Netherlands can’t match Scotland either in the short or long term. Dutch crowds have been increasing but they would need to reach a new average high of over 21,000 to match Scotland.

There is absolutely no chance of Scotland moving up in these rankings. The average would have to rise to around 17,000 to do so. That figure has never been reached under the current format, the closest being 2006-07 when it was some 800 below that number. Even under the 10-club format it couldn’t happen. In fact the average would have to be over 20,000 to match the Icelandic equivalent.

Perhaps the most important conclusion of all is this: a full year after “Armageddon,” Scotland retains exactly the same position in crowd figures in comparison to other countries as it has for many years.

Notes

1 Excludes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Has no effect on overall figure or placing as no club from this area plays in the Cypriot League.

2 Doesn’t include Rangers. Including Rangers’ last season in the SPL in 2011-12 the figure is 1.571. No effect on placing.

3 Excludes Wales but includes Swansea City figures. Excluding Swansea the figure is 0.693. Including Wales (and obviously Swansea) the figure is 0.641. Neither has any effect on placing.

4 Six leading Welsh clubs play within the English structure. Only one in the top flight. Given I am looking at top flights only, it would be crazy to add Swansea's figures to those of the League of Wales whilst excluding Cardiff and the other sides in the English structure, most of whom draw bigger crowds than the League of Wales clubs.

5 I can find no information on crowds for two UEFA members. One is the lowest ranked league in Europe (Andorra) and the other has just joined UEFA (Gibraltar). The arrival of Gibraltar, with no ranking points, means Andorra will move off the bottom.

Andorra has eight clubs in the top division and only two grounds are used, neither of which has a capacity of over 1,000. Population: 85,468.

Gibraltar has eight teams in the top division with only one ground, capacity 5,000, though a new national all-seated 10,000 stadium is planned now that they have been accepted by UEFA. Population: 29,635.

6 Liechtenstein has no national league with all their sides playing in Switzerland. Population: 36,835.

John Meffen

Re: European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

Post by John Meffen » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:39 am

scottish wrote: It is possible that Norway may overtake Scotland this season and/or next season. They would need to reach an average of around 8,450 to overtake Scotland. They’ve had that and better in the recent past but would need a jump of around 20% to achieve it now. Even if that happened, once Rangers are back in the top flight, normal service will be resumed. The Netherlands can’t match Scotland either in the short or long term. Dutch crowds have been increasing but they would need to reach a new average high of over 21,000 to match Scotland.
Norway will not be able to change significantly as although it has a comparable population to Scotland, their biggest population centre, Oslo, doesn't have their most successful teams, and of the next biggest cities all are one club cities, that and the geographic nature of Norway does not foster a culture of travelling support.

I've been to several Tippeligaen matches, all in Oslo, one was an Oslo derby Skeid v Lyn, and the ground looked like it had a capacity of less than 5000, another Vålerenga v Viking there were only about 100 viking fans that I could see, difficult to judge the crowd, as they were spread out in the Bislett Stadion, which is not a proper football ground. The biggest crowd I saw in Norway was for a friendly Norway v Lithuania, in Ullevaal, which I just looked up has about 25,000 capacity, and it seemed pretty full then.

If Scotland managed to get consistently successful clubs outside the OF you could only see crowds rising. I think I just found a stumbling block though, successful clubs.

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Re: European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

Post by Scottish » Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:29 pm

My point is that if Norwegian clubs averaged the same as they did in the mid-2000s then they would overtake the current Scottish proportion. It's unlikely but far from impossible. Norway's population is slightly less than Scotland's but their top division is bigger (sixteen clubs). So, as an example, in order to attract 1% of the population any given weekend, the SPFL needs 52,950 ÷ 6 or an average of 8825. For Norway it's 49621 ÷ 8 or an average of 6203.

The Scottish position without the OF would be 0.592. But that's actually meaningless as it assumes no OF fans would go elsewhere if the big two ceased to exist overnight.

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Re: European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

Post by Scottish » Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:56 pm

I should have said in the notes that the figure for France includes Monaco.

John Meffen

Re: European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

Post by John Meffen » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:16 pm

I am only surprised the Foerisht are so high, but [cultural stereotype] I suppose there is not much else to do on the Sheep Islands.

I am a bit dodgy on leagues with no second division, but hey, we can't have everything.

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Re: European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

Post by Scottish » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:13 pm

John Meffen wrote: I am a bit dodgy on leagues with no second division, but hey, we can't have everything.
That's a fair point as there is inevitably an inbuilt advantage if there is only a single division when calculating percentages. But as I wrote earlier it's simply impossible to build up a clear picture.

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Re: European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

Post by Gorgiewave » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:40 pm

Scottish, do you have the data to be able to compare percentage of income spent on football in these countries? It does look, very broadly, like the higher percentages are wealthier, but one would have to know average incomes, probably by city or region, and average entrance prices.

I wouldn't ask anybody to do that amount of internet trawling and I won't do it, but if anybody has such figures, they would be interesting to see.
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Re: European Attendances as percentage of population 2013.

Post by Scottish » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:26 pm

Gorgiewave wrote:Scottish, do you have the data to be able to compare percentage of income spent on football in these countries?
Put simply, no. I also think it would be impossible to say. Easy enough to find out average income but not average price of admission. As you'll know, Spanish prices vary by an incredible amount from game to game, unlike say Scotland where they're usually racked up (or down in the case of Michael Johnston) only for the OF

Also, while displaying support as a percentage of population can be done (not easy it's time-consuming), using income would be much more complicated even if you had the figures. You'd need to strip out all non-attenders (bit pointless including people whose spend on football equals 0.00% but their inclusion would skew the figures significantly downwards). Next, I reckon you'd have to compare DISPOSABLE income. Not much worth comparing percentage spent on football if, for argument's sake, 20% is spent on food in one country and 40% in another, or 15% on energy in one and 25% in another). There would also be arguments about what disposable income actually was. Food, energy, transport, clothing obviously not. But TV, computer, mobile phone e.g? Luxury or indispensable?

In short, I'm of the view that even if all the data was somehow suddenly available there would be too many variable factors to make any meaningful comparison.

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