We were on a good run. There is no denying it. The first three Gameweeks came and went and not an estimate in sight. Gameweek 4 saw Derry play their first home game which means a guaranteed estimated attendance. Gameweek 5,6 and 7 had one estimate each (Derry twice and Pats once) but on the whole this was a solid start to 2017. Gameweek 8 has been the iceberg to our over confident Titanic. Of the ten fixtures, four are estimated.
Of the four estimates, two are as official as unofficial attendance figures can be. Of the other two, our reporters had to use their guessimating powers.
After eight Gameweeks, the total attendance figure for 2017 stands at 108,430 across 74 games with an average attendance of 1,465. In 2016, after the same number of Gameweeks, the number was 96,899 averaging at 1,346. The trends are up on 2015 too, if only slightly - 108,760 over 76 games resulting in an average of 1,430.
That’s all great for the league but the distribution of those totals are really the true indicator of how the league is faring and so let’s delve into the breakdown of who is the kingpin of attendances and who can count their crowds between stops in play.
Cork City are top dogs so far this season. To put their crowd into perspective, barring Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, they are better than double every other clubs average crowd. Even then, the difference between the Rebel Army’s best crowd (vs Dundalk 6,746 on a Saturday night) and worst (vs Sligo Rovers 2,722 on a Monday) is 4,024. Monday night football clearly doesn’t seem to attract League of Ireland fans in the same numbers as a Friday / Saturday game and can have quite an impact on crucial gate revenues.
Shamrock Rovers have the second best average so far this season with 3,507. Champions Dundalk sit in third with 3,431. There is a drop of 1,360 to 4th but it is still an excellent showing for newly promoted Limerick with an average gate of 2,071.
The top First Division club so far this season is Waterford FC. They sit 7th of the 20 teams and have dramatically improved on their attendance showing of 2016. The Blues finished second bottom of the averages table last year on 277. They currently have an average crowd of 1,546.
The bottom seven spots are occupied by the rest of the First Division. The lower division continues to struggle to attract crowds, and similar to last year, one team has a sizable lead over the rest. The Division’s total of 13,405 through the turnstiles in the first eight Gameweeks is 12.36% of the 2017 attendance total. To make some comparisons, the home gates of either Cork City, Shamrock Rovers or Dundalk over their first four fixtures is greater than the total First Division viewing audience.
So how are clubs doing so far this season compared to their 2016 end of season averages? Cork City (up 1,987), Shamrock Rovers (up 1,466), Dundalk (up 693), Limerick (up 938), Bohemians (up 226), Waterford (up 1,269), St Pats (up 522), Finn Harps (up 247), Galway United (up 276), Drogheda United (up 403), Cabinteely (up 120) and Athlone Town (up 113) have all posted better averages on the figures provided to Extratime.ie.
Sligo Rovers (down 203), Bray Wanderers (down 213), Shelbourne (down 28), Cobh Ramblers (down 52), Longford Town (down 141), Wexford (down 200) and UCD (down 86) are all registering below season totals last year.
I have excluded Derry City from the list as all last year and this year’s crowd figures are estimated.
The best attended game so far this season was Gameweek 6's clash of Cork City and Dundalk which drew a crowd of 6,746. The Rebel Army are also in second place where 5,275 fans turned up for the Turner's Cross visit of Derry City in Gameweek 8. Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians Dublin derby in Gameweek 2 is third on 5,220. The top ten fixtures are available to view below.
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Gameweek by Gameweek - The Totals and Averages
|Gameweek||No of Teams||Total||Average|
First Eight Gameweeks - 2015, 2016, 2017 Comparison
Club by Club Totals and Averages
|St. Patrick's Athletic||5,917||1,479||4|
|Galway United FC||4,336||1,445||3|
Club Averages 2016 versus 2017 so far
|Club||2017 Av||2016 Av||Diff|
|St. Patrick's Athletic||1,479||957||522|
|Galway United FC||1,445||1,169||276|
Top Ten Fixtures in 2017
|Date||Home Team||H||A||Away Team||Att|
|07/04||Cork City||3||0||Derry City||5,275|
|03/03||Cork City||4||0||Galway Utd||3,335|
|10/03||Shamrock Rvrs||0||1||Derry City||3,251|
|17/03||Shamrock Rvrs||1||2||Cork City||3,045|
|31/03||Limerick FC||0||3||Cork City||2,985|