Summer sun fails to draw crowds to League of Ireland as World Cup clashes impact attendances

Sat, Jul 14 2018

Cork City Fans during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game between Dundalk and Cork City on Friday 29th June 2018 at Oriel Park Credit: Michael P Ryan

Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

The return of the League of Ireland in the middle of the largest footballing tournament in the world was never going to leave the league’s attendances unscathed. Whilst the day of its return coincided with the first break in the World Cup schedule, the subsequent games clashed with both round-of-16 and quarter-final matches. The impact of this was felt on the home gates in almost all League of Ireland venues.

The Gameweek prior to the mid-season break (10 games played on the 15th June) resulted in the lowest average attendance (957) across both divisions. That same night Portugal and Spain played out a dramatic 3-3 draw in the World Cup. With the summer sun still a novelty and the lure of what many believed to be possible finalists in an early head-to-head clash, many chose barbeques and beer gardens over the Carlisle Grounds and Richmond Park.

Comparing the season average for each of the clubs playing at home to their attendance on the last games before the break, all ten came in lower. Excluding Derry City (due to all their attendances being estimates) the percentage drop ranged from 17.7% for Finn Harps all the way up to 41.7% drops on their average for Bray Wanderers and St. Patrick’s Athletic.

GAMEWEEK 26

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

15/06

Cobh

1

0

Athlone Town

120

15/06

Wexford

0

0

Galway Utd

145

15/06

Longford Town

1

0

Drogheda Utd

335

15/06

Bray

0

0

Waterford

359

15/06

Shelbourne

0

0

Cabinteely

464

15/06

Finn Harps

1

3

UCD

536

15/06

Limerick

0

2

Shamrock

700

15/06

St. Pats

0

3

Sligo Rovers

1,003

15/06

Derry City

0 4 Dundalk 2,300

15/06

Cork City 1 0 Bohemians 3,604
       

TOTAL

9.566

       

Average

957

       

First Avg

320

 

      Prem Avg

1,593

As the clubs returned on the 29th June, six of the ten matches came in below their average attendance. There were some exceptions to that however as the top-of-the-table clash of Dundalk and Cork City drew 4,117 to Oriel Park which is a 65% increase on the average crowd so far this season at the venue.

Whilst the other clubs in the black made only small gains on their average crowds, some of the other clubs took a much bigger hit. Limerick (53%), Drogheda United (41%), Cabinteely (35%) and Athlone Town (62%) had a significant percentage drop in their attendances. The lowlight of this Gameweek was only 59 people turned up for Athlone Town’s 1-0 loss to Wexford.

The overall average for this Gameweek came in at 1,301. Strong showings for Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Dundalk meant the average for the Premier Division was a decent 2,296 but the First Division’s hit an average of 307 across the five fixtures.

GAMEWEEK 27

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

29/06

UCD

1

5

Longford Town

306

29/06

Shamrock

2

0

Derry City

2,845

29/06

Limerick

2

1

Bray 

500

29/06

Galway Utd

1

2

Shelbourne

708

29/06

Dundalk

2

1

Cork City

4,117

29/06

Drogheda Utd

2

1

Cobh

258

29/06

Cabinteely

0

1

Finn Harps

204

29/06

Bohemians

1

0

St. Pats

2,255

29/06

Athlone Town

0 1 Wexford 59

30/06

Sligo Rovers 2 3 Waterford 1,762
       

TOTAL

13,014

       

Average

1,301

       

First Avg

307

 

      Prem Avg

2,296

Moving on a week, the Friday night fixtures had to contend with two World Cup Quarter-Finals, more sunshine and the traditional dip due to people heading off on holidays. The league did not win this fight. Out of the ten games, only UCD improved on their season average (267). Impressively they actually improved by 97% as 525 turned up to watch a 1-1 draw with Shelbourne.

Five clubs were down in-and-around 50% on their season average. Longford Town suffered the lowest drop (8.9%) followed by Cork City (16.5%) however the Rebel Army still managed 3,749 spectators in Turner’s Cross which represented 38% of the league’s attendance for the Gameweek.

Bray Wanderers suffered the biggest drop of the Gameweek as 271 people turned up for their Premier Division game against Sligo Rovers.

GAMEWEEK 28

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

06/07

Waterford

1

1

Bohemians

1,831

06/07

UCD

1

1

Shelbourne

525

06/07

St Pats

1

3

Dundalk

1,290

06/07

Galway Utd

4

1

Athlone Town

435

06/07

Drogheda Utd

0

1

Finn Harps

222

06/07

Derry City

2

1

Limerick 

1,100

06/07

Cork City

0

0

Shamrock

3,749

06/07

Cabinteely

1

2

Wexford

141

07/07

Longford Town

1 2 Cobh Ramblers 420

08/07

Bray Wanderers 2 1 Sligo Rovers 271
       

TOTAL

9,984

       

Average

998

       

First Avg

349

 

      Prem Avg

1,648

           

With European games disrupting the schedule over the next couple of weeks and the negative news around Bray Wanderers,  it will be challenging for the league to keep attendances up if they are to come in with similar crowd levels as last year. 

For more information on the season to date you can read our mid-season attendance review.

Please note that if you do use these figures found here further afield in print, on radio or on television, we appreciate if you would also give Extratime.ie credit as it has taken a lot of effort to source and compile this information.