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Police Say St Mary's Attendances Were Lower Than The Official Figure
Wednesday, 12th Sep 2018 09:05

The BBC Has been looking at attendances at Premier League games and has found that the figures claimed by clubs is much higher than the figure that the local Police claim.

Alistair Magowan of the BBC has published an article on Premier League attendances and has found that the official attendance given by the club is a lot more than what the local Police force are saying was the number actually in attendance.

Of course we all expected Arsenal to be the main culprit , anyone who was present at our fixture their last season will know that there were thousands of empty seats yet the attendance given was around 60,000, a capacity crowd.

But the big surprise is that Saints are cited as a main culprit as well, but do the Police claims hold water.

Hampshire Police figures say that the gate's at St Mary's over the season were an average of 4,246 fans lower than figures issued by the club.

Club (% of capacity) FOI (% of capacity) Difference (% of capacity)
Southampton 29,906 (92%) 25,660 (79%) 4,246 (13%)

The biggest discrepancies came towards the end of the campaign, according to Hampshire Police.

The Saints said their attendance for Chelsea's visit on 14 April was 31,764 but police figures show 6,945 fewer fans at St Mary's. There was also a difference of 6,799 (31,778 - 24,979) for the home game against south-coast rivals Bournemouth.

Now this is where I start to doubt the Police figures, whilst there were some games where the attendance was most definitely not near the figure published by the club which included season ticket holders and no shows, the Stoke City home game played on a Sunday lunchtime at the height of the winter snow period, I cannot accept that there were 7,000 empty seats in St Mary's for the visit of Chelsea and Bournemouth especially the latter.

Both of those games were sell outs and looking around St Mary's there were no areas of the ground where empty seats could be spotted, apart from the odd ones dotted around, both teams also sold out their full allocation in the away section so there were none there.

7,000 empty seats is something that you cannot hide, the Chapel End for instance holds about 6,000, so it is the equivalent of that end being empty and add a couple of blocks from the Itchen corner.

If you had taken every fan out of that area for these two games, could you see where they could be squeezed in in another part of the ground, I certainly couldn't !

Of course there were some missing ticket holders, but I would say in the low hundreds not the thousands claimed by the police, 7,000 is almost a quarter of the capacity of the ground.

So why the big difference, there is no financial gain for Saints to over estimate the attendances, in fact the other way round, it would be in their interest to say that less attended and pocket the difference, but they are not doing that.

There will always be those who cannot make a game, no one can deny that we had some unnatractive fixtures at St Mary's last season, some at either bad kick off times or i poor weather, I can see why there would be far less in the ground.

But for the Bournemouth & Chelsea game the evidence was there for all to see, there was no way there were 7,000 empty seats in the ground for what were two crucial games in the run in to the end of the season, at times I have been critical of our home support last season, but it came good in the final weeks and turned up got behind the team.

So what do you think, if you were at both those games, do you think there were 7,000 empty seats, I just cannot see where the Police got those figures from !

For the full article click on the link below.

Photo: Action Images

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underweststand added 10:06 - Sep 12
IF... we accept that clubs do not deliberately "seed " the figures for PR reasons, then where do these stats. comes from and how accurate / inaccurate are they?

Perhaps season ticket holders are counted in - whether they turn up for every match or not. Maybe the number of seats in the "executive boxes " are bought and paid for in advance, and therefore automatically included ?

The number of tickets SOLD may be counted in - even if some fans do not actually attend on the day, and unsold tickets to away fans may also come into this category.?

However, none of this can fully account for the large discrepancies quoted in the article.
so where do the Police get their figures from? Do they count the number of cars parked around the ground and apply some equation to multify that?. Do they count coaches, or those arriving by train as part of their stats.?

Certainly there are a lot of unanswered questions here and we must await the club's reaction. Although I don't get the chance to attend every game, those I have been to haven't shown thousands of empty seats around the ground.
In my "Dell days" I got used to "guessing" the attendance and quite often was quite close to the published figs...or were the attendances "artificially inflated" - even then ?


underweststand added 10:22 - Sep 12
P:S. to the above.
I can understand that some " illegal practices " in declaring LESS than the genuine figure could benefit a club, who could pocket the maoney and avoid tax, but do they really get more " outside / Prem./ League " money for having full attendances - sound odd to me.

LoisDeem added 15:43 - Sep 12
Whilst I will try and find Alistair McGowan's BBC article, I am amazed that the Police can have such accurate' figures. I have also not seen further mention of reduced ticket prices for the Brighton match, has this idea been shelved or is it still being offered under the counter /discreetly?
There certainly appears to be evidence of more fake news these days.

FredAndWhite added 16:23 - Sep 12
How are they counting these attendances?
Tickets sold or people through the door?

I noticed this discrepancy a few weeks ago at Brighton. The BHAFC page posted 'and 1500 travelling fans' yet the Saints page said over 2000. Not much in comparison to the Chelsea and Bournemouth games but evidence is there perhaps SFC exaggerate the actual numbers

SanMarco added 23:58 - Sep 12
Counting every season-ticket holder whether they attend or not is the traditional way to inflate the gate. I suppose empty seats might suggest that fans aren't satisfied so the club attempts to wipe them from history. I agree with Nick that certain of the figures in the BBC report seem plain wrong. You can always look around a ground you are familiar with and make a pretty good guess at the attendance. Bournemouth was just about full...

underweststand added 11:59 - Sep 16
Good point San Marco, but I was reliably informed that a large % of the Saints fanbase do not live in, or even close to SMS, and indeed a not-inconsiderable number live well outside the City boundaries. Travel to home matches may depend a great deal on date / timing of matches for the many who have to rely on public transport where timetables are not condusive to kick-off times ...or the final whistle for those who need to travel back home late, especially if games clash with "key dates", school days, sickness etc.

However, the fact remains that there does seem to be a culture amongst some clubs ...
of "massaging" the numbers of those who physically attend every game.. even if they have bought tickets that they can't / don't use on the day. The fact remains that - on the evidence provided - Saints do not appear to be alone in this practice, although I would be interested to hear just how the Police arrivde at the stats. that they provided.

Remembering that Churchill once quoted that.....there are lies, da*n lies ..and statistics.

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