The Attendance Problem

Friday, 8 November 2002, 0:01
2 mins read

If you have been locked in your house, on holiday abroad or still recovering from a mental breakdown caused by the Kidderminster performance, then you might have just missed the new scheme set up the Supporters Trust that has gained extensive publicity this week. Will this scheme succeed and bring back the 6,500 thousand (or better still – the 10,000 from the Championship season) to the Vetch Field?

The long and the short of it is that Swansea City Football Club is three points adrift at the bottom of the football league and it appears that the majority of the playing staff are not up to the job that faces them. Due to a shortfall in the expected attendances at the Vetch Field so far this season, we are apparently £10k worse off per game from the predicted income set at the beginning of the season (mainly due to the Vetch Field housing 1,000 less fans than anticipated every fortnight). This scheme is looking to kill two birds with one stone: to increase attendances back to the expected level of a club of Swansea’s size and to bring in several loan players with the help of donations from local businesses and fans. Still with me?!

The scheme has apparently been far more successful than was ever anticipated in its first few days of existence. Much publicised have been the donations of £375 (one weeks wages of a loan player) by both the Evening Post and Roger Freestone as well as countless others that have given what they can afford. Basically, we need more players like Brian Cash (who incidentally completes his loan period next Thursday – making Macclesfield his last fixture) if we are to remove ourselves from our current position and find a respectable place in the middle of the Third Division.

This all appears fairly obvious – less obvious than the location of all of the Swansea fans…where are you?!!

We started the season with a 6,500 attendance agaist Rushden, drawn for the first game of the season and to see the side that missed out on promotion through the play-off finals last year. Two weeks later came Bournemouth and an attendance of 4,800, followed by 4,000 fans at the York match. Unbelievably, only 3,300 supporters ventured out to see top of the league Hartlepool in early September – although this was the day of Finland vs Wales…but not until later that evening. What baffles me is that so many fans came to see the first two great games, with Swansea playing well and including lots of goals andsendings off,etc (anda Swansea win!!) but they suddenly disappeared without trace. Based on the last two seasons, there appears to be a solid base of 2,800 fans that venture to home matches every fortnight, with the final attendance confirmed by an indefinite number of supporters that come every now and again. So where are those fans that have been at the Vetch Field over the last few years??

In the 1980’s, Swansea was the major side in South Wales with support in the Valleys and beyond. Unfortunately, the recent success of Cardiff appears to have stolen a huge number of supporters from Swansea, especially from areas such as Port Talbot, Bridgend and the Valleys. Unless Swansea can gain success and overtake Cardiff, which is unlikely due to the Bluebirds’ backing, then those fans must be written off. It then remains to Swansea to attract the relatively untapped resource of Western Wales (i.e.Llanelli, Carmarthen, Haverfordwest, etc) by providing transport, etc, so as to swell numbers once more at the Vetch Field. There will always be supporters that only turn up if the side is playing well (lets face it – hy all come and jump on the bandwagon then!) but the Trust faces a huge battle to make occasional fans come more regularly.

We have all heard the stories of other football clubs’ reactions to similar situations. Brighton attendances rose dramatically due to fans really getting behind the side in troubled times whilst QPR’s supporters bought their manager some new players, which aided their plight in the Second Division. If we want to escape from the foot of the football league, then ensure that those occasional fans come every fortnight to the Vetch and who knows…see you in the Premier League in 4 years???!!

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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