City’s attendances this season have been much discussed. The official average stands at 15,739, which is the lowest since 2002/3 – when the Tigers were in the bottom division.
But are fifteen thousand people really turning up to watch City every week? With the Upper West Stand closed, we’re instantly losing around 5,000 from a capacity of around 25,400. Of the twenty thousand seats still available for City fans, are three-quarters of them occupied every week? Really?
We wonder. But first things first: tihere’s no obligation for City, or any club, to announce attendance figures that precisely correspond to the number of people physically present. They’d be doing nothing wrong if a different way of calculating attendance figures was implemented, and that’s actually fairly common. If City want to count everyone who could theoretically attend, rather than those who do, that’s up to them.
However, as this Guardian article a couple of months ago explains, crowd figures are a sort of health check on the state of a club. They do matter. And knowing them matters, so we can understand what’s happening to our club.
So we asked around. And look at what we found:
|Announced Attendance||Actual Attendance||Away Attendance|
|Hull City v Bolton (25/08/17)||15,504||12,834||898|
|Hull City v Wolves (15/08/17)||17,284||14,459||1,358|
That’s interesting, isn’t it?
Those crowds feel a lot closer to what we experience in the ground. Both state that the official attendance is fully 20% higher than the actual attendance. The Bolton one in particular shows that virtually half the stadium is empty.
If we reproduce that 20% margin for the crowd in Saturday’s defeat against Bristol City, 14,762 becomes about 12,300. A half-empty stadium. Just a few years ago we were locking people out of the stadium amid skyrocketing demand. Now we have a ground one-fifth shut and barely reaching 50% capacity. That health check reveals a chronically sick football club. It’s a desperately sad situation.
We asked Hull City AFC if they wanted to comment on these figures, however they declined to do so (though impeccably politely). These figures were obtained with a Freedom of Information request to Hull City Council.