extratime.ie League of Ireland Attendance Report 2018

Mon, Feb 11 2019

Waterford supporters during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game between Waterford FC and Dundalk FC on Friday 4th May 2018 at The RSC, Waterford. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

2018 saw Dundalk do the double, Derry City land the League Cup whilst UCD and Finn Harps escaped the clutches of the First Division as they exchanged places with Bray Wanderers and Limerick in the Premier Division. Cork City had to console themselves with a third President’s Cup win in a row as well as retaining the Munster Senior Cup. Shelbourne also retained the Leinster Senior Cup. But how did the clubs fare when it came to league attendances?

441,466 spectators* turned up across 315 matches in 2018 to watch what the SSE Airtricity League had to offer. Compared to our 2017 totals, that is an increase of 10,762, albeit there were five more games played this season. It’s a 97,221 increase on 2016.

It’s easy to celebrate an increase in attendances when you look at these figures in isolation but these totals don’t really tell the whole story of SSE Airtricity League of Ireland attendances so below is a comprehensive breakdown of the facts and figures surrounding the games and their attendances.  

*Source of attendance figures:

287 of the 315 games are official figures with estimates for the remaining 28 matches where extratime.ie were not able to source official figures for these games. 18 of the 20 clubs provided a full set of official attendance figures. The entire set of Derry City home games are estimated with the only other estimates coming from a number of Limerick home matches. Our figures for these games are a combination of estimates from club officials, extratime.ie reporters and other members of the media. Should we get the official figures in the future, we will update this article.

Highlights and Lowlights – The Facts and Figures

The 441,466 people came through the turnstiles across 315 league games in 2018 giving an average gate per game of 1,401 which is an increase of 12 on 2017.

When you break that down across the two divisions, the Premier Division drew 384,520 spectators with an average of 2,136. The First Division had a much smaller piece of the pie with 56,946 turning up – an average of 422.

The Premier Division saw an increase of 7,158 on 2017 with the average per game increasing by 230. The First Division also saw an overall crowd increase of 3,604 on the previous year but there was also an increase in the number of games resulting in the average per game dropping by 54.

It is clear from the figures above of the gulf between the Premier Division and the First but when you look at the breakdown of the percentage of overall attendances per club it paints an even bigger chasm between the top few clubs and the rest.

In 2018, 49.31% of the total league audience came from only four clubs – 217,666 of the 441,466 turned up to only four grounds.

Overall Attendances

Cork City may have lost out to Dundalk on the pitch in 2018 but they continue to lead the way with their attendances. 74,183 people came to Turner’s Cross for their league campaign which represented 16.8% of the league’s total crowds.

Shamrock Rovers overtook Dundalk in 2017 and they remain second with 51,417 making the trip to Tallaght Stadium. The Hoops also slightly increased their percentage of the overall attendances from 11.05% in 2017 to 11.65% in 2018.

Dundalk had the third largest crowds of the season with 50,419 (11.42%) opting for Oriel Park. The newly promoted Waterford took fourth place with 41,647 (9.43%) journeying in the RSC in 2018.

Those four clubs shared almost 50% of the overall league attendance. On the other end of the scale, Athlone Town in toal across the whole season had only 1,735 (0.39%) fans watch their games at home. 2,632 (0.6%) turned up at Ferrycarrig Park to watch Wexford.

 

Percentage of Attendance per club

Team

2018

2017

2016

Cork City

16.80

16.94

12.5

Shamrock Rovers

11.65

11.05

9.5

Dundalk

11.42

10.68

12.7

Waterford

9.43

5.04

1.3

Bohemians

8.71

7.73

7.6

Derry City

8.50

5.92

7.1

Sligo Rovers

7.35

6.38

8.7

St. Patrick's Athletic

6.58

5.88

5.4

Limerick

3.75

6.35

4.6

Bray Wanderers

2.91

3.59

4.7

Finn Harps

2.25

4.72

6

Galway United

2.23

5.37

5.4

Shelbourne

2.07

1.62

2.2

Longford Town

1.45

1.11

2.3

Drogheda United

1.31

3.03

2.4

UCD

1.04

0.71

1.2

Cabinteely

0.84

1.10

1.4

Cobh Ramblers

0.72

1.10

1.6

Wexford

0.60

1.10

2.8

Athlone Town

0.39

0.59

0.6

Average Attendances

Cork City’s average attendance in 2018 was 4,121 which is a drop of 438 from the highs of the 2017 season. Despite the drop, they are still a distance ahead of the rest. Shamrock Rovers averaged 2,857 (up 58) with Dundalk following up on 2,801 (up 96). 

Eight teams averaged over 1,000 in 2018 compared to 11 teams in the previous two seasons. However six teams had an average over 2,000 compared to three in 2017 and 2016.

One of the possible reasons for this is the fact the Premier Division dropped to ten teams which mostly improved the top tier attendances.

Seven of the ten Premier Division teams improved their average from 2017. Cork City, Limerick and Bray Wanderers all suffered drops. The City decrease still left them top of the pile whilst Limerick and Bray had turbulent seasons that impacted their crowd-pulling power.

Seven of the ten First Division teams suffered drops in their averages from 2017. Shelbourne, Longford Town and UCD all improved but largely their gains were just recovering the losses they suffered between 2016 and 2017. There were no stand-out attendance getters in the First this year like we had in the guise of Limerick and Waterford in previous seasons. 

The most improved club average in 2018 was Waterford with an increase of 764. The biggest average fall was Limerick** as they saw their average drop by 691.

(** 10 of the 18 home attendances for Limerick are estimates therefore there is a potential degree of error to be associated with this figure)

League Totals and Averages

 

Total

2018

2017

2016

Cork City

74,183

4,121

4,559

2,533

Shamrock Rovers

51,417

2,857

2,799

2,041

Dundalk

50,419

2,801

2,705

2,738

Waterford

41,647

2,314

1,550

277

Bohemians

38,446

2,136

1,958

1,627

Derry City

37,530

2,085

1,500

1,519

Sligo Rovers

32,453

1,803

1,717

1,752

St. Patrick's Athletic

29,047

1,614

1,583

957

Limerick

16,540

919

1,610

1,133

Galway United

9,860

758

1,359

1,169

Bray Wanderers

12,838

713

966

933

Finn Harps

9,917

708

1,269

1,210

Shelbourne

9,153

654

500

583

Longford Town

6,389

456

342

488

Drogheda United

5,788

413

815

583

UCD

4,584

353

220

317

Cabinteely

3,723

286

339

352

Cobh Ramblers

3,165

243

339

403

Wexford

2,632

188

340

455

Athlone Town

1,735

133

182

156

Best attended matches

Unsurprisingly Cork City dominate the Top 20 best attended games. Their 1-0 win over Dundalk in April drew the largest SSE Airtricity League crowd of the season with 6,672 coming through the turnstiles in Turner’s Cross. 12 of the Rebel Army’s 18 home games make it into the top 20 list.

Shamrock Rovers were the only other team to make the top ten and first feature in fourth place for the visit of Bohemians to Tallaght. For the Bohs 2-1 win over the home side in April there were 4,512 in attendance.

Dundalk make their first appearance in 11th for the visit of Cork City (4,117). Waterford and Bohemians are the only other clubs in the top 20 with Waterford in 18th (3,684 vs Cork City) and Bohs in 19th (3,640 vs Shamrock Rovers).

Incredibly there was only one fixture in the top 20 that didn’t feature either Cork City or Shamrock Rovers. Sligo Rovers' October visit to Oriel Park on the last day of the season took 15th spot (3,877).

 

Top 20 Attended games

Date

Home

   

Away

Att

27/04

Cork City

1

0

Dundalk

6,983

23/02

Cork City

2

0

Waterford

6,746

01/06

Cork City

3

0

Waterford

5,857

13/04

Shamrock R

1

2

Bohemians

5,768

12/03

Cork City

1

0

Shamrock R

5,361

13/04

Cork City

1

0

St Pats

5,275

21/09

Cork City

0

1

Dundalk

5,220

19/03

Cork City

3

0

Bohemians

5,135

17/08

Shamrock R

0

1

Bohemians

4,746

16/03

Shamrock R 

1

0

St Pats

4,725

29/06

Dundalk

2

1

Cork City

4,534

18/05

Cork City

4

0

Bray

3,925

23/02

Shamrock R 

0

0

Dundalk

3,844

19/08

Cork City

1

1

St Pats

3,837

09/10

Dundalk

5

0

Sligo 

3,744

04/06

Cork City

4

2

Derry City

3,643

06/07

Cork City

0

0

Shamrock 

3,628

06/04

Waterford

2

1

Cork City

3,622

16/02

Bohemians

3

1

Shamrock R 

3,617

31/08

Cork City

1

2

Sligo

3,590

Worst attended matches

The top 10 lowest attendances are dominated by Athlone Town with only one other club, Cobh Ramblers, making an appearance. The lowest crowd of the season came in June as Wexford visited Athlone Town Stadium. Only 59 people were on hand to watch the game that Wexford had won before eventually losing it due to fielding an ineligible player for Athlone’s only “win” of the season.

 

Total number of games played: 315

Total League of Ireland 2018 Attendance: 441,466 (up 10,762 or 2.5% on 2017) 430704

Average gate for the 2018 season: 1,401

Average gate for Premier Division: 2,136 

Average gate for the First Division: 422

Total number of attendees in the Premier Division: 384,520

Total number of attendees in the First Division: 56,946

Largest Attendance: 6,672 – Cork City 1-0 Dundalk

Lowest Attendance: 59 – Athlone Town 0-1 Wexford (Athlone 3-0 win due to ineligible player)

Home wins in 2018: 148             

Away wins in 2018: 109

Draws in 2018: 58

Home Goals in 2018: 518

Away Goals in 2018: 380

 

SSE Airtricity League of Ireland - Danske Bank Premiership Mash-up

So how does the Danske Bank Premiership square up to the League of Ireland regarding attendances? Taking the Premiership 2017/18 season, we have compiled the full list of crowds per club and then done a comparison to the 2018 League of Ireland season. The figures for the Premiership are all official attendances.

Linfield topped the attendance charts up north with 42,855 and an average gate of 2,256 per game. That places them fifth highest when added to League of Ireland teams. Coleraine comes in next in ninth with Glentoran the third Premiership team to make the top ten.  

Crusaders (12th), Glenavon (13th), Cliftonville (14th) and Ballymena United (15th) all managed average attendances above 1,000. In total the top 15 attendances across both leagues is made up of eight League of Ireland teams and seven Premiership sides.

The lowest average attendance of the Northern Irish club sides, Warrenpoint (266), had a better average gate than Cobh Ramblers, Wexford and Athlone Town.

In total the Danske Bank Premiership drew a total crowd of 248,309 over 228 games with an average gate of 1,089. Their largest crowd of the season was the 26th December clash of Glentoran and Linfield which saw 6,054 turn up for the Christmas clash.

 

Danske  / SSE Airtricity Combined

 

No of Games

Total

Average

Cork City

18

74,183

4,121

Shamrock Rovers

18

51,417

2,857

Dundalk

18

50,419

2,801

Waterford

18

41,647

2,314

Linfield

19

42,855

2,256

Bohemians

18

38,446

2,136

Derry City

18

37,530

2,085

Sligo Rovers

18

32,453

1,803

Coleraine

18

30,638

1,702

Glentoran

19

30,683

1,615

St Pats

18

29,047

1,614

Crusaders

20

29,886

1,494

Glenavon

18

24,424

1,357

Cliftonville

18

24,101

1,339

Ballymena Utd

19

24,323

1,280

Limerick

18

16,540

919

Galway United

13

9,860

758

Bray Wanderers

18 12,838 713

Finn Harps

14

9,917

708

Shelbourne

14

9,153

654

Ards

21

10.473

499

Dungannon Swifts

19 9,153 482

Ballinamallard Utd

20 9,368 463

Longford Town

14 6,389 456

Drogheda Utd

14 5,788 413

Carrck Rangers

18 7,350 408

UCD

14 4,584 353

Cabinteely

13 3,723 286

Warrenpoint Town

19 5,055 266

Cobh Ramblers

13 3,165 243

Wexford

14 2,632 188

Athlone Town

13 1,735 133

 

Gameweek by Gameweek

For the purposes of this article we have created gameweeks based on date ranges. The ranges are included below.

 

Gameweek by Gameweek

W

Date Range

G

Total

Av

Prem Av

First Av

1

16 - 17 Feb

5

14,460

2,892

2,892

0

2

23 - 24 Feb

9

18,823

2,091

3,235

662

3

26 - 27 Feb

5

8,252

1,650

1,650

0

4

9 - 11 Mar

10

13,984

1,398

2,327

470

5

12 Mar

5

11,220

2,244

2,244

0

6

16 - 17 Mar

10

13,793

1,379

2,354

404

7

19 Mar

3

5,740

1,913

2,807

127

8

23 - 26 Mar

10

11,583

1,158

2,157

493

9

30 Mar

10

12,455

1,246

2,083

408

10

6 - 7 Apr

9

13,255

1,473

2,308

429

11

13 - 14 Apr

10

13,378

1,538

2,617

459

12

16 - 17 Apr

5

8,570

1,714

1,714

0

13

20 - 21 Apr

10

13,272

1,327

2,187

468

14

27 - 28 Apr

9

16,837

1,871

2,969

498

15

30 Apr

5

7,587

1,517

1,517

0

16

4 - 6 May 

10

14,355

1,436

2,459

412

17

7 May

2

860

430

0

430

18

11 - 12 May

10

11,519

1,152

1,885

419

19

14 - 15 May

3

4,031

1,344

1,344

0

20

18 - 20 May

10

13,550

1,355

2,320

390

21

21 - 22 May

4

7,765

1,909

1,909

0

22

25 May

10

11,786

1,179

2,011

346

23

1 June

10

13,020

1,302

2,204

400

24

4 Jume

5

5,740

1,148

3,865

469

25

8 - 9 June

10

10,837

1,084

1,848

319

26

15 June

10

9,566

957

1,593

320

27

29 - 30 June

10

13,014

1,301

2,296

307

28

6 - 8 July

10

9,984

998

1,648

349

29

13 - 14 July

6

3,712

619

1,750

392

30

20 - 23 July

9

10,505

1,167

2,147

384

31

27 - 29 July

10

11,883

1,188

2,009

367

32

3 - 4 Aug

9

10,689

1,188

1,974

557

33

17 - 19 Aug

10

12,709

1,271

2,275

267

34

20 - 28 Aug 3 4,388 1,463 2,153 82

35

31 Aug - 1 Sep 10 11,509 1,151 1,761 541

36

14 - 15 Sep 8 10,431 1,304 1,920 688

37

21 - 22 Sep 10 12,158 1,216 2,024 408

38

25 Sep 1 3,176 3,176 3,176 0

39

5 - 6 Oct 5 11,363 2,273 2,273 0

40

12 Oct 3 7.037 2,346 2,346 0

41

19 Oct 5 9.474 1,895 1,895 0

42

22 Oct 2 1,221 611 611 0

43

26 Oct 5 10,105 2,021 2,021 0

 

Club by Club

Attendances in red are estimated.  

ATHLONE TOWN

It’s been quite a turbulent number of seasons for Athlone Town. The last three seasons has seen the midlands club finish last in the SSE Airtricity First Division. In 2016, they averaged 156 spectators per game. In 2017, they increased it marginally to an average of 182. 2018 has seen that drop to 133 per game with a total of 1,735 people turning up for Athlone’s 13 home games. To put that into perspective, 108 league games got more for a single game than Athlone’s full season tally. As per most seasons, the midlands derby against Longford Town drew the biggest attendance (220) with the first game after the mid-season break against Wexford their lowest (59).

 

ATHLONE TOWN

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

16/03

Athlone Town

1

3

UCD

125

19/03

Athlone Town

1

2

Cabinteely

127

30/03

Athlone Town

1

1

Finn Harps

119

13/04

Athlone Town

1

4

Cobh 

125

04/05

Athlone Town

0

3

Galway Utd

291

11/05

Athlone Town

0

1

Drogheda

107

25/05

Athlone Town

1

1

Longford 

220

08/06

Athlone Town

0

5

Shelbourne

114

29/06

Athlone Town

3

0

Wexford

59

13/07

Athlone Town

1

3

Cabinteely

135

27/07

Athlone Town

0

1

UCD

117

17/08

Athlone Town

1

3

Finn Harps

114

24/08

Athlone Town

1

3

Cobh 

82

       

TOTAL

1,735

       

Average

133

BOHEMIANS

Bohemians have been steadily growing their average attendance over the last three years. In 2016, the club were averaging 1,627 per game. 2017 saw that increase to 1,958. This year the Dalymount club got an average gate of 2,136. Bohs have managed to join six other clubs in having an average gate over 2,000 this season. Unsurprisingly their best attended games were the two derby clashes with Shamrock Rovers. The opening day of the season 3-1 win over the Hoops saw 3,640 turn up at Dalymount. The 1-1 draw in May registered 3,466 spectators. The second game of the season against Derry City, which fell on a Tuesday, drew Bohs’ smallest crowd (1,183).

 

BOHEMIANS

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

16/02

Bohemians

3

1

Shamrock R

3,640

27/02

Bohemians

0

1

Derry City

1,183

09/03

Bohemians

0

1

St Pats

2,814

16/03

Bohemians

2

2

Sligo Rovers

1,623

23/03

Bohemians

2

1

Bray 

1,853

06/04

Bohemians

0

0

Limerick

1,674

20/04

Bohemians

0

2

Cork City

2,281

30/04

Bohemians

0

1

Waterford

1,540

18/05

Bohemians

0

2

Dundalk

2,241

25/05

Bohemians

1

1

Shamrock R

3,466

08/06

Bohemians

1

2

Derry City

1,722

29/06

Bohemians

1

0

St Pats

2,255

13/07

Bohemians

0

3

Sligo Rovers

1,750

20/07

Bohemians

6

0

Bray

1,631

03/08

Bohemians

5

0

Limerick

1,721

14/09

Bohemians

4

2

Cork City

2,279

05/10

Bohemians

1

3

Waterford

1,959

26/10

Bohemians

1

1

Dundalk

2,634

       

TOTAL

38,446

       

Average

2,136

BRAY WANDERERS

Bray Wanderers have had a couple of difficult seasons and this year they finally succumbed to relegation. Despite dropping to the first division, Bray fans may have a renewed sense of hope for their club with the arrival of new owners Tim and Niall O’Driscoll. They will be hoping to get the local community back behind the club and increase the numbers coming through the turnstiles in the Carlisle Grounds. Bray’s average crowd in 2018 dropped from the previous two seasons (2017 – 966, 2016 – 933) to 713, the lowest average attendance in the Premier Division. Their best attended game far outstrips the rest of their games. 1,850 was the official attendance for Shamrock Rovers visit in August. The early July visit of Sligo Rovers, which fell on a Sunday, drew their lowest crowd of the season (271).

 

BRAY WANDERERS

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

23/02

Bray 

1

2

St Pats

1,124

12/03

Bray 

1

2

Sligo Rovers

384

30/03

Bray 

0

4

Cork City

669

13/04

Bray 

0

2

Dundalk

820

16/04

Bray 

1

0

Shamrock R

645

27/04

Bray 

0

1

Limerick

470

04/05

Bray 

2

1

Derry City

319

11/05

Bray 

1

3

Bohemians

911

14/05

Bray 

2

2

Waterford

392

01/06

Bray 

3

1

St Pats

685

15/06

Bray 

0

0

Waterford

359

08/07

Bray 

2

1

Sligo Rovers

271

27/07

Bray 

1

3

Cork City

843

17/08

Bray 

1

3

Dundalk

1,050

31/08

Bray 

0

3

Shamrock R

1,850

21/09

Bray 

0

2

Limerick

852

19/10

Bray 

0

5

Bohemians

852

26/10

Bray 

2

1

Derry City

342

       

TOTAL

12,838

       

Average

713

CABINTEELY

Cabinteely have settled into 6th / 7th position in the First Division over the last three seasons. In their first season they managed four wins from 28 games but last season saw the south Dublin side register ten victories in 2017 and nine wins in 2018. Despite their increased number of victories, their visitor count to Stradbrook has slightly decreased each season. In 2016, their average was 352 which dropped to 339 in 2017. In 2018, they averaged 286. The visits of Shelbourne to their ground was a crowd booster with both games drawing well over the season average - 608 and 577.

 

CABINTEELY

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

23/02

Cabinteely

0

1

Wexford

324

09/03

Cabinteely

0

1

Cobh

324

30/03

Cabinteely

3

2

Finn Harps

334

13/04

Cabinteely

2

0

Shelbourne

608

20/05

Cabinteely

1

2

Galway Utd

245

25/05

Cabinteely

2

0

UCD

201

04/06

Cabinteely

4

0

Athlone Town

168

08/06

Cabinteely

1

0

Longford Town

301

29/06

Cabinteely

0

1

Finn Harps

204

06/07

Cabinteely

1

2

Wexford

141

20/07

Cabinteely

2

0

Cobh

139

17/08

Cabinteely

2

2

Drogheda

157

14/09

Cabinteely

1

1

Shelbourne

577

       

TOTAL

3,723

       

Average

286

COBH RAMBLERS

Just like Athlone Town and Cabinteely, fellow First Division member Cobh Ramblers saw a downward trend regarding their average crowds in 2018. 243 was their average attendance to St Colman’s Park in 2018 which is a drop from 2017’s 339 and 2016’s 403. Visits by Galway United (375), Shelbourne (320) and Drogheda United (310) ranked highest. The 2-1 win over Wexford in July was their lowest recorded crowd (110).

 

COBH RAMBLERS

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

17/03

Cobh 

0

2

Finn Harps

279

30/03

Cobh 

0

2

UCD

278

21/04

Cobh 

1

5

Drogheda

310

05/05

Cobh 

0

1

Longford Town

233

12/05

Cobh 

1

0

Cabinteely

246

25/05

Cobh 

0

3

Shelbourne

320

04/06

Cobh 

0

0

Galway Utd

375

09/06

Cobh 

2

1

Wexford

110

15/06

Cobh 

1

0

Athlone Town

120

14/07

Cobh 

1

2

Galway Utd

277

28/07

Cobh 

0

1

Finn Harps

211

18/08

Cobh 

2

2

UCD

234

22/09

Cobh 

0

2

Drogheda

172

       

TOTAL

3,165

       

Average

243

CORK CITY

Cork City may have been beaten to the League and Cup this season but they are still by far the best supported team in the land. With an average gate of 4,121, they may be down on their 2017 numbers but they remain the only club with an average over 3,000. They also command 16.8% of the overall League of Ireland audience. Seven of their games were also in the Top 10 best attended games of 2018. The rest of the league has work to do if they want to rival the Rebel Army when it comes to attendances.

 

CORK CITY

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

23/02

Cork City

2

0

Waterford

6,443

12/03

Cork City

1

0

Shamrock R

4,483

19/03

Cork City

3

0

Bohemians

4,265

13/04

Cork City

1

0

St Pats

4,402

17/04

Cork City

1

0

Sligo Rovers

3,217

27/04

Cork City

1

0

Dundalk

6,672

05/05

Cork City

2

1

Limerick

3,516

18/05

Cork City

4

0

Bray

4,070

01/06

Cork City

3

0

Waterford

4,834

04/06

Cork City

4

2

Derry City

3,865

15/06

Cork City

1

0

Bohemians

3,604

06/07

Cork City

0

0

Shamrock R

3,749

23/07

Cork City

5

0

Derry City

3,572

19/08

Cork City

1

1

St Pats

3,926

31/08

Cork City

1

2

Sligo Rovers

3,626

21/09

Cork City

0

1

Dundalk

4,310

12/10

Cork City

3

0

Limerick

2,486

26/10

Cork City

5

1

Bray 

3,142

       

TOTAL

74,183

       

Average

4,121

DERRY CITY

Unfortunately Derry City do not provide official figures but we have done our best to get a close-as-possible estimate on their crowd numbers as they moved back into the newly renovated Brandywell Stadium. Should we ever get official tallies, we will update this accordingly.

 

DERRY CITY

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

12/03

Derry City

5

0

Limerick

2,460

16/03

Derry City

5

1

Bray

2,460

30/03

Derry City

2

1

St Pats

2,460

13/04

Derry City

1

0

Waterford

2,650

16/04

Derry City

3

1

Bohemians

3,100

27/04

Derry City

0

0

Shamrock R

3,100

11/05

Derry City

0

0

Cork City

3,200

14/05

Derry City

1

4

Dundalk

2,500

21/05

Derry City

2

0

Bray

1,600

01/06

Derry City

0

2

Sligo Rovers

1,600

15/06

Derry City

0

4

Dundalk

2,300

06/07

Derry City

2

1

Limerick

1,100

27/07

Derry City

2

1

St Pats

2,200

03/08

Derry City

1

2

Sligo Rovers

1,750

17/08

Derry City

1

2

Waterford

1,600

31/08

Derry City

0

2

Bohemians

1,200

22/09

Derry City

0

1

Shamrock R

1,250

19/10

Derry City

0

3

Cork City

1,450

       

TOTAL

37,530

       

Average

2,085

DROGHEDA UNITED

Drogheda United made the play-offs this season but failed to overcome Finn Harps and will now spend another season in the First Division. Just like all the previously mentioned sides in this division, the Louth club saw their average crowds drop in 2018. Drogheda spent 2017 in the Premier Division with an average attendance of 815 so it is expected that their drop to the First would also result in a dip in crowd numbers. 2018’s average was 413 with the visit of Longford Town on the first day of the season registering as their best gate (627). Their lowest came with the visit of Finn Harps in July (222).

 

DROGHEDA UNITED

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

11/03

Drogheda

6

0

Athlone Town

374

23/03

Drogheda

2

2

Galway Utd

494

26/03

Drogheda

2

1

Finn Harps

382

06/04

Drogheda

2

0

UCD

471

13/04

Drogheda

1

1

Longford

478

27/04

Drogheda

1

1

Shelbourne

580

18/05

Drogheda

2

0

Wexford

351

01/06

Drogheda

2

0

Cabinteely

376

29/06

Drogheda

2

1

Cobh

258

06/07

Drogheda

0

1

Finn Harps

222

20/07

Drogheda

2

1

Athlone Town

359

03/08

Drogheda

2

2

Galway Utd

364

31/08

Drogheda

0

3

UCD

452

14/09

Drogheda

2

1

Longford 

627

       

TOTAL

5,788

       

Average

413

DUNDALK

2018 was Dundalk’s year on the pitch having secured a League and Cup double. They finished third in the attendance charts though behind Cork City and Shamrock Rovers. For the past three seasons these clubs have been the heavy hitters when it comes to crowds however Dundalk seem to have plateaued a little. In 2016 they had an average of 2,738. In 2017 they had an average of 2,705 and this season they recorded 2,801. It will be interesting to see if the double will result in a boost to the attendances to push them over the 3,000 mark next season. Cork City’s visit in June drew their largest crowd (4,117) with the 8-0 hammering of Limerick recorded as their lowest (1,843).

 

DUNDALK

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

16/02

Dundalk

0

0

Bray

2,491

27/02

Dundalk

8

0

Limerick

1,843

09/03

Dundalk

1

0

Cork City

3,563

16/03

Dundalk

1

0

Waterford

2,215

30/03

Dundalk

3

0

Bohemians

3,263

06/04

Dundalk

2

1

Shamrock R

3,056

20/04

Dundalk

2

2

Derry City

3,191

30/04

Dundalk

5

0

St Pats

2,086

11/05

Dundalk

2

1

Sligo Rovers

2,134

21/05

Dundalk

2

0

Waterford

2.041

25/05

Dundalk

5

0

Bray 

1,877

08/06

Dundalk

4

0

Limerick

2.276

29/06

Dundalk

2

1

Cork City

4,117

29/07

Dundalk

2

0

Bohemians

3,139

28/08

Dundalk

1

2

Shamrock R

2,657

25/09

Dundalk

3

2

Derry City

3,176

05/10

Dundalk

1

1

St Pats

3,417

19/10

Dundalk

5

0

Sligo Rovers

3,877

       

TOTAL

50,419

       

Average

2,801

           

FINN HARPS

One season in the First Division and the Harps have managed to escape its clutches at the first attempt. They will play Premier Division football in 2019 and should expect the crowd bounce associated with it. Harps had averaged 1,210 and 1,269 in the previous seasons but dropped to 708 in 2018 which is usually the pattern for relegated clubs. They never managed to break 1,000 this season but came close with their highest crowd of the season - 966 versus Galway United in August.

 

FINN HARPS

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

09/03

Finn Harps

1

1

Shelbourne

935

23/03

Finn Harps

1

0

Wexford

734

20/04

Finn Harps

1

0

Cabinteely

594

04/05

Finn Harps

2

1

Drogheda

631

07/05

Finn Harps

1

0

Galway Utd

655

18/05

Finn Harps

0

1

Cobh

660

01/06

Finn Harps

4

0

Athlone Town

573

04/06

Finn Harps

2

4

Longford

545

15/06

Finn Harps

1

3

UCD

536

13/07

Finn Harps

3

0

Longford

637

20/07

Finn Harps

0

0

Shelbourne

842

03/08

Finn Harps

3

0

Wexford

957

31/08

Finn Harps

2

0

Galway Utd

966

22/09

Finn Harps

7

1

Cabinteely

652

       

TOTAL

9,917

       

Average

708

 

GALWAY UNITED

Just like Harps, the Tribesmen suffered relegation in 2017 but unlike the Donegal side, they will be condemned to another season in the lower tier. Galway had been making progress on their crowds over the last few seasons with averages of 1,169 and 1,359 in 2016 and 2017 respectively. This season it has dropped to 758. The campaign started strongly with 1,198 watching the 4-1 win over Athlone Town. It proved to be their best crowd and since then the trend was mostly downward and the next time Athlone came to visit in July, it turned out to be their lowest attendance of the season (435). 

 

GALWAY UNITED

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

23/02

Galway Utd

4

1

Athlone Town

1,198

16/03

Galway Utd

3

1

Cabinteely

725

30/03

Galway Utd

0

0

Longford

1,029

13/04

Galway Utd

4

1

Wexford

847

27/04

Galway Utd

3

0

Cobh 

753

11/05

Galway Utd

2

0

UCD

845

25/05

Galway Utd

0

1

Drogheda Utd

838

08/06

Galway Utd

1

2

Finn Harps

734

29/06

Galway Utd

1

2

Shelbourne

708

06/07

Galway Utd

4

1

Athlone Town

435

27/07

Galway Utd

3

2

Cabinteely

581

17/08

Galway Utd

1

4

Longford 

576

14/09

Galway Utd

1

1

Wexford

591

       

TOTAL

9,860

       

Average

758

 

LIMERICK

Unfortunately whilst Limerick started the season providing some attendance figures, from March the majority of the figures are estimated. We have tried to make contact with the club and should we get any updated official figures we will update this article.

 

LIMERICK

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

24/02

Limerick

1

1

Bohemians

2,225

09/03

Limerick

1

0

Bray

948

16/03

Limerick

1

1

Cork City

1,341

19/03

Limerick

0

1

Shamrock R

1,348

30/03

Limerick

0

2

Waterford

1,122

14/04

Limerick

1

2

Sligo Rovers

700

17/04

Limerick

0

3

Dundalk

700

30/04

Limerick

0

3

Derry City

703

11/05

Limerick

0

1

St Pats

800

21/05

Limerick

0

2

Cork City

978

01/06

Limerick

1

1

Bohemians

1,100

15/06

Limerick

0

2

Shamrock R

700

29/06

Limerick

2

1

Bray

500

27/07

Limerick

2

1

Waterford

1,040

17/08

Limerick

1

3

Sligo Rovers

650

31/08

Limerick

0

1

Dundalk

700

05/10

Limerick

0

1

Derry City

535

19/10

Limerick

0

4

St Pats

450

       

TOTAL

16.540

       

Average

919

 

LONGFORD TOWN

Longford are one of the few First Division sides to buck the trend and increase their average crowd this season. Having averaged 342 in 2017 they have moved up to 456 in 2018. The midlands club never bettered their opening day attendance of 575 in the 2-2 clash against Cobh Ramblers. Their lowest crowd came with the visit of Wexford in July as 333 turned up to watch the 3-0 win over the South-East club.   

 

LONGFORD TOWN

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

24/02

Longford Town

2

2

Cobh

575

10/03

Longford Town

3

0

Wexford

421

24/03

Longford Town

5

1

Athlone Town

521

07/04

Longford Town

3

0

Cabinteely

425

21/04

Longford Town

0

2

UCD

472

28/04

Longford Town

1

2

Finn Harps

458

19/05

Longford Town

1

1

Shelbourne

531

01/06

Longford Town

3

2

Galway Utd

410

15/06

Longford Town

1

0

Drogheda

335

07/07

Longford  Town

1

2

Cobh

420

21/07

Longford Town

3

0

Wexford

333

04/08

Longford Town

3

0

Athlone Town

492

01/09

Longford Town

4

1

Cabinteely

501

22/09

Longford Town

2

2

UCD

495

       

TOTAL

6,389

       

Average

456

 

SHAMROCK ROVERS

The Tallaght-based club have once more improved on their average gate this season and kept their hold on second place in the attendance charts. With an average crowd of 2,857, they remain ahead of Dundalk. They have also increased their share of the overall League of Ireland audience from 9.5% in 2016 to 11.05% in 2017 to 11.65% in 2018. They are also the only club to feature in the Top 10 best attended games outside of Cork City. Their best gates this season were unsurprisingly the Bohemians Dublin derby clashes - 4,512 in April and 4,150 in August. 

 

SHAMROCK ROVERS

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

23/02

Shamrock R

0

0

Dundalk

4.065

26/02

Shamrock R

6

0

Bray

1,525

09/03

Shamrock R

6

1

Derry City

2,720

16/03

Shamrock R

1

0

St Pats

4,133

30/03

Shamrock R

1

0

Sligo Rovers

2,900

13/04

Shamrock R

1

2

Bohemians

4,512

20/04

Shamrock R

1

1

Limerick

1,964

30/04

Shamrock R

3

0

Cork City

1,931

11/05

Shamrock R

1

1

Waterford

2,379

22/05

Shamrock R

3

0

St Pats

3,016

01/06

Shamrock R

2

5

Dundalk

2,799

09/06

Shamrock R

5

0

Bray

1,588

29/06

Shamrock R

2

0

Derry City

2,845

27/07

Shamrock R

2

0

Sligo Rovers

2,825

17/08

Shamrock R

0

1

Bohemians

4,150

14/09

Shamrock R

5

0

Limerick

2,115

05/10

Shamrock R

0

0

Cork City

3,105

19/10

Shamrock R

3

1

Waterford

2,845

       

TOTAL

51,417

       

Average

2,857

 

SHELBOURNE

In 2017, Shelbourne averaged 500 spectators per game. The Tolka Park based club, who made the play-offs this year, will be pleased to have increased their average gate to 654 in 2018. Drogheda United’s July visit drew their biggest attendance of the season (787) whilst Cabinteely’s 0-0 draw a month earlier was their lowest (464) and the only time a Shelbourne home game dropped below 500.

 

SHELBOURNE

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

16/03

Shelbourne

3

2

Longford

682

23/03

Shelbourne

1

0

Cobh

602

06/04

Shelbourne

7

0

Athlone Town

667

20/04

Shelbourne

2

0

Galway Utd

761

04/05

Shelbourne

1

1

UCD

738

11/05

Shelbourne

0

0

Finn Harps

724

01/06

Shelbourne

4

1

Wexford

512

04/06

Shelbourne

1

1

Drogheda

787

15/06

Shelbourne

0

0

Cabinteely

464

13/07

Shelbourne

0

1

Drogheda

726

27/07

Shelbourne

6

1

Longford

764

03/08

Shelbourne

3

1

Cobh

561

31/08

Shelbourne

2

2

Athlone Town

631

22/09

Shelbourne

 

3

 

0

Galway Utd

534

       

TOTAL

9.153

       

Average

654

 

SLIGO ROVERS

Sligo Rovers registered a slight increase on their average attendance in 2018 compared to the last two seasons. Having recorded 1,752 and 1,717 averages in 2016 and 2017 respectively, they moved to 1,803 in 2018. After a drive to get people into the Showgrounds for the first game, they recorded 3,056 for their opener against Limerick. It was the last time they broke the 3,000 mark. Their lowest crowd of the season came in October and was the only time they dipped below 1,000. Bohemians Monday night visit to Sligo ended in a  1-1 draw that was witnessed by 879.

 

SLIGO ROVERS

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

17/02

Sligo Rovers

0

1

Limerick

3.056

23/02

Sligo Rovers

2

1

Derry City

2,319

26/02

Sligo Rovers

1

4

Cork City

1,842

09/03

Sligo Rovers

1

2

Waterford

1,589

24/03

Sligo Rovers

0

2

Dundalk

2,586

07/04

Sligo Rovers

0

2

Derry City

1,873

21/04

Sligo Rovers

0

0

St Pats

1,473

30/04

Sligo Rovers

2

1

Bray

1,327

05/05

Sligo Rovers

0

2

Bohemians

2,033

19/05

Sligo Rovers

0

0

Shamrock R

1,572

25/05

Sligo Rovers

0

0

Limerick

1,438

09/06

Sligo Rovers

0

2

Cork City

1,793

30/06

Sligo Rovers

2

3

Waterford

1,762

20/08

Sligo Rovers

0

2

Dundalk

1,649

15/09

Sligo Rovers

1

2

St Pats

1,536

06/10

Sligo Rovers

2

1

Bray

2,347

22/10

Sligo Rovers

1

1

Bohemians

879

26/10

Sligo Rovers

2

0

Shamrock R

1379

       

TOTAL

32,453

       

Average

1,803

 

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC

In 2016, the Pats average gate was below the 1,000 mark (957) but the last two seasons has seen that jump up. In 2017, they averaged 1,583 before mildly improving on that total in 2018 with 1,614. The 2-0 win over Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers in May drew their largest gate (2,918) whilst Sligo Rovers' 3-0 win in June was their lowest (1,003).

 

ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

16/02

St Pats

2

3

Cork City

2,771

12/03

St Pats

0

0

Dundalk

1,609

23/03

St Pats

1

0

Limerick

1,178

06/04

St Pats

5

0

Bray

1,252

16/04

St Pats

1

0

Waterford

1,358

27/04

St Pats

2

2

Bohemians

2,429

04/05

St Pats

2

0

Shamrock R

2,918

15/05

St Pats

2

0

Sligo Rovers

1,139

18/05

St Pats

5

2

Derry City

1,762

25/05

St Pats

1

3

Cork City

1,530

15/06

St Pats

0

3

Sligo Rovers

1,003

06/07

St Pats

1

3

Dundalk

1,290

20/07

St Pats

2

1

Limerick

1,005

03/08

St Pats

3

0

Bray

1,146

31/08

St Pats

3

0

Waterford

1,428

22/09

St Pats

1

3

Bohemians

2,105

12/10

St Pats

0

1

Shamrock R

2,064

26/10

St Pats

5

0

Derry City

1,060

       

TOTAL

29,047

       

Average

1,614

 

UCD

UCD gained promotion to the Premier Division this season and also managed to increase their average gate. Last season’s match attendance was the second lowest of all clubs with 220, but this season it increased to 353 and moved them to fifth lowest in the league. The end of the season 1-1 draw with Finn Harps drew their largest crowd of the season (958) whilst their lowest attendance was the June visit of Cobh Ramblers (131).

 

UCD

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

23/02

UCD

2

1

Shelbourne

550

09/03

UCD

1

1

Galway United

296

23/03

UCD

3

1

Cabinteely

223

13/04

UCD

3

2

Finn Harps

236

27/04

UCD

3

2

Wexford

202

18/05

UCD

3

0

Athlone Town

164

01/06

UCD

3

1

Cobh 

131

08/06

UCD

2

0

Drogheda

337

29/06

UCD

1

5

Longford 

306

06/07

UCD

1

1

Shelbourne

525

20/07

UCD

2

0

Galway Utd

245

03/08

UCD

4

1

Cabinteely

411

14/09

UCD

1

1

Finn Harps

958

       

TOTAL

4,584

       

Average

3

 

WATERFORD

Last season Waterford transformed their average gate from 277 to 1,550 and also booked passage to the Premier Division for 2018. Once again they have pushed on and increased their average crowd considerably. In 2018, the club averaged 2,314 in the RSC. On three occasions they managed to break through the 3,000 mark, twice against Cork City (3,684 and 3,287) and once against Dundalk (3,508). The Blues also managed an impressive fourth place finish in the league, nine points ahead of fifth and only three points off third. Can Waterford push on once more and challenge the top three both on the pitch and in the stands?

 

WATERFORD

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

16/02

Waterford

2

1

Derry City

2,502

26/02

Waterford

2

0

St Pats

1,859

12/03

Waterford

1

0

Bohemians

2,284

23/03

Waterford

2

1

Shamrock R

3,010

06/04

Waterford

2

1

Cork City

3,684

20/04

Waterford

3

0

Bray

2,024

27/04

Waterford

1

1

Sligo Rovers

2,173

04/05

Waterford

2

1

Dundalk

3,508

18/05

Waterford

3

6

Limerick

1,774

25/05

Waterford

4

0

Derry City

1,743

08/06

Waterford

2

0

St Pats

1,862

06/07

Waterford

1

1

Bohemians

1,831

22/07

Waterford

0

1

Shamrock R

2,378

03/08

Waterford

1

2

Cork City

3,287

14/09

Waterford

2

0

Bray 

1,748

21/09

Waterford

1

0

Sligo Rovers

1,603

12/10

Waterford

1

2

Dundalk

2,487

26/10

Waterford

4

1

Limerick

1,890

       

TOTAL

41,647

       

Average

2,314

 

WEXFORD

Since Wexford’s relegation back to the First Division, the South-East club has seen a steady decrease in crowd numbers. In 2016, they competed in the Premier Division but only averaged 455. In 2017 that dropped to 340 and in 2018 it slipped further to 188. The club’s attendance all season remained between 145 (versus Galway United) and 281 (versus Shelbourne). It means Wexford never managed to hit 2017’s average crowd once this season.

 

WEXFORD

Date

Home

H

A

Away

Att

16/03

Wexford

1

8

Drogheda 

210

30/03

Wexford

0

1

Shelbourne

281

06/04

Wexford

1

1

Cobh

153

20/04

Wexford

7

0

Athlone Town

202

04/05

Wexford

0

1

Cabinteely

168

07/05

Wexford

0

8

UCD

205

11/05

Wexford

0

2

Longford 

173

25/05

Wexford

1

1

Finn Harps

153

15/06

Wexford

0

0

Galway Utd

145

13/07

Wexford

0

3

UCD

187

27/07

Wexford

0

0

Drogheda

163

17/08

Wexford

1

2

Shelbourne

252

31/08

Wexford

1

2

Cobh 

155

21/09

Wexford

2

0

Athlone Town

185

       

TOTAL

2,632

       

Average

188

 

In Summary

Whilst the number of people going to League of Ireland is up on the previous season, the gap between the top teams and the rest is increasing. The entire sum of the attendances of the First Division teams is aproximately 17,000 less than Cork City’s total gate for the year. Cork City’s lowest match attendance of the season is 751 more than the entire of Athlone Town’s gate for the season. 

What is needed to address the First Division's sliding attendances and to improve the Premier Division figures? Investment in infrastructure is required across many of the League of Ireland grounds to make them an attractive option for the average punters to spend their hard earned cash. Many clubs have floated plans to improve or build new grounds but any League of Ireland fan will tell you that plans becoming a reality in the league is more miss than hit.

In the shorter term, a joined up and sustained marketing effort is required to promote all 20 clubs and their games and players. Whilst some clubs have great initiatives, the need for an overall season-long campaign has been lacking in the league. There has been strides made by clubs and the FAI, yes, but not nearly enough to suitably market a national league.   

The issue with both options is the need for investment and with many clubs living week-to-week to maintain their existences, it is unlikely they would have the luxury of re-directing funds for that purpose.

These problems and their solutions, however, are for another day and a different article. In the meantime we will continue to record the league attendances and would like to thank all the clubs and volunteers for their assistance in compiling these figures.  

If you have any comments or issues with facts and figures, you can reach this article’s author on @garethpenrose. If you spot any errors, please let us know.

Please note that if you do use the figures found here further afield in print or online, on radio or on television, please credit extratime.ie as the source as it has taken a lot of effort to gather and compile this information.