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Post by Scottish » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:00 am

As you’d imagine, information on level five crowds (the Conference excepted) is hard to come by and whilst it is possible to find a few more than those on display here, the time and effort involved in doing so isn’t really justified. I hope the few listed gives some kind of flavour of the kind of structures and crowds elsewhere. The examples chosen have been selected so as to show figures from a national league (England), regions from a large and highly populated country (Germany), from a comparatively small country in terms of population but with a wide geographical area (Sweden) and from a small, compact country (Switzerland).


To take the last first, Switzerland splits its fifth level into six areas, named not after any particular region but given the prosaic titles of Liga InterRegional Gruppes 1-6. They all have fourteen clubs and promotion and relegation applies with the champions of each going up. As cliché would dictate, Swiss football is organised highly methodically and relegation applies as well with three teams from each division dropping down to the next level.

The overall average for the six groups was 178. For each group, averages were: (in order 1-6)

Best supported clubs in each division (highest overall in bold and again in order 1-6) were:
200 Vevey Sports
301 La Chaux de Fonds
307 Moutier
227 SC Buochs
271 Kosova
360 Widnau

Sweden has about one-ninth the population of Germany but is a larger country in terms of area and it’s not too surprising to find it operates nearly as many regional leagues. Promotion and relegation operates throughout the Swedish system. At the fifth level, the overall average attendance is 144. Unlike Switzerland with its simple numbering system, Sweden gives a geographical name to its divisions. These are the averages for each of the twelve regions, put in order of high to low.
218 Sydostra Gotaland
186 Mellersta Gotaland
184 Nordvastra Gotaland
165 Sydvastra Gotaland
155 Vastra Svealand
151 Nordostra Gotaland
125 Sodra Norrland
123 Sodra Svealand
119 Norra Norrland
111 Sodra Gotaland
104 Mellersta Norrland
90 Ostra Svealand

Best supported clubs in each division (highest overall in bold). The order corresponds to the leagues above.
522 IFK Osby
324 IFK Falkoping
420 Vanersborgs IF
314 Vinbergs
322 MD FF Koping
242 Myresjo/Vetllanda
200 Rengsjo
285 IFK Eskilstuna
242 Gallivare Malmbergets
188 IFK Trelleborg
176 Solleftea
110 Enkopings, 110 Osterakers

Germany has fourteen regions (Oberligas) with promotion and relegation throughout. As you’d expect given the population, these divisions are better supported than in Switzerland and Sweden, though surprisingly not by as much as you might think. The overall average is 272. Averages in order of high to low are:

401 Baden Wurttemberg
363 Westfalen
351 Bayernliga Nord
331 Niederrhein
307 NordOst Nord
257 Rheinland Pfalz/Saar
243 NiederSachsen
228 Schleswig-Holstein
222 Bayernliga Sud
216 Hessenliga
202 Hamburg
197 Mittelrhein
189 NordOst Sud
Bremen – no figures available.

The best supported clubs (highest in bold) in order corresponding to the leagues:
912 SSV Reutlingen
740 SC Rodinghausen
1042 Sp VGG Bayreuth
1864 Wuppertaler
1074 Dynamo Berlin
628 Pirmasens
570 Hansa Luneberger
1104 Lubeck
479 Raisting
464 TSV 1965 Lehnerz
607 Altona 93
542 Bonner
679 Budissa Bautzen
Bremen N/A

The only national fifth level I could find is the Conference in England. The English pyramid structure was developed comparatively late compared to many countries (though not Scotland, which is only now catching up) and even when the Conference was established (as the Alliance Premier League) as a national non-league in 1979 it couldn’t be said to be part of a pyramid structure even though it was clearly the apex of the non-league game. The pyramid can be said to only truly have been established in 1987, with direct promotion to, and relegation from, the Football League and while in the early years there were some seasons when that didn’t apply, owing to the unsuitability of some grounds to meet league standards, that isn’t the case today.

A number of long-established Football League teams now play in the Conference and former Conference clubs have reached as high as the Championship (level two) in England and it’s a fairly safe bet more will do so in the future. Though whether any will reach the Premier League is another matter entirely (I discount the likes of Wigan Athletic and Wimbledon whose league status was initially due to election rather than via promotion).

Last season the average attendance was 1,865. In other words the English average was on a par with Germany’s best. It was also a higher figure than Scotland’s level two Championship and the second levels of many other well-established football countries such as Austria, Chile, Poland, Ukraine, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal and a host of others. Indeed I can find (excluding English levels) only twenty-one second level leagues, six third level and just one fourth level (Brazil) with a higher average.

Luton Town’s figure was higher than no fewer than thirty-seven Football League clubs, including one in the Championship (Yeovil Town) and every club in League Two bar Portsmouth. Highest Conference attendance (unsurprisingly at Luton) was 10,044

I think it’s fair to say that today the Conference is the best organised and supported fifth level league in the world. Indeed, given its national structure and promotion and relegation to the Football League (two down automatically, champions up and 2nd-5th in play-offs for the second promotion slot) it is in effect League Three in the English structure, even if it doesn’t bear that name or come under the auspices of the Football League.

7387 Luton Town
3568 Grimsby Town
3085 Cambridge United
2993 Wrexham
2366 Chester FC
2354 Lincoln City
2035 Kidderminster Harriers
1947 Aldershot Town
1758 Hereford United
1706 Barnet
1601 Woking
1597 FC Halifax Town
1512 Macclesfield Town
1251 Dartford
1209 Nuneaton Town
1195 Forest Green Rovers
1049 Southport
1003 Salisbury City
994 Braintree Town
965 Tamworth
885 Gateshead
807 Welling United
805 Alfreton Town
689 Hyde

Attendance information in English football would seem to be more detailed than anywhere else in the world (certainly at least as far as I’m aware). It would take up far too much space to go into any great detail on the levels below the conference, but it may be interesting – if not particularly useful – to give figures for levels six-ten. Top clubs are (in order six-ten)

2593 Stockport County
1929 FC United of Manchester
1097 Darlington 1883
471 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
320 1874 Northwich

Overall averages for levels six-ten in order (includes all leagues at each level)

A look now at Scotland. Due to the differences between senior and junior it has been impossible over the years to determine which grade of football is the highest outside the league. The Highland League has long been regarded as the de facto highest level in the north but the central belt and the south is another matter. For years the polite fiction was kept up that the East of Scotland League and the South of Scotland League were on a par when the former was clearly superior to the latter. At the same time the assumption was also generally held that junior football (especially since its restructuring into three regional “superleagues”) was better than senior non-league – a belief which has not been decisively proven (though generally correct) since the top junior clubs started entering the Scottish Cup proper in 2007.

But with the establishment of the Lowland League in 2013 we had at last an official fifth level in the Scottish game with the Lowland League at one end of the country and the Highland League at the other. The continuing strength of the latter is a cause for celebration considering it lost five of its top sides to the Scottish League between 1994-2000 – all via election, not promotion.

The main cause for concern with the Lowland League is the obstinate refusal of the top junior clubs to countenance membership. Perhaps the more ambitious among them will change their minds after this season. For at the end of 2014-15, Scottish football will finally adopt a pyramid system with the winners of the Highland and Lowland Leagues clashing to determine which one of them will face the bottom club in League Two for a place in next season’s Scottish League. It’s far from perfect. There’s no direct promotion and relegation. But it’s a start and once started there’s no going back. When direct promotion was introduced in England only the Conference champions were promoted – and not always either. Now, a Conference team can finish in fifth place and earn themselves the opportunity to play league football the following season.

I am confident Scottish football will follow suit. Not to a national fifth level but to at least one guaranteed promotion place and play-offs for another. To those who think the non-league clubs are not of a sufficiently high standard to play league football, I say so what? If that’s the case then they’ll sink like a stone after a season and the team they replaced will run away with the league they’ve dropped into.

Somehow I get the feeling that won’t be the case.

There’s one annoying thing about the new Scottish structure and that’s the inability/unwillingness to provide attendance figures. If England can do it down to level ten and the Germans, Swiss and Swedes do so for hundreds of clubs down to level five, then surely Scotland can provide the details for the thirty-two clubs currently operating in the fifth tier?

In the absence of such and with there still being non-league involvement in the 2014-15 Scottish Cup at the time of writing, I’ve done the same as in my thread on Australia and used 2013-14 cup ties as some kind of indication (no doubt inaccurate but perhaps of interest anyway) of non-league attendances.

In 2013-14 non-league clubs played at home in forty Scottish Cup ties with a total attendance of 16,322 - an average of 409. Once matches against league clubs are excluded there were thirty ties with a total attendance of 9,984 and an average of 333. Breaking it down further there were just twelve ties between level five clubs. These produced a total of 3,561 and an average of 297.

The Icelandic fifth level is split into four groups of either seven or eight teams meeting each other just once with the top two in each group going through to the play-offs where two promotion places are at stake. Overall average at this level was forty. Highest was 423 and lowest was just three. It wasn’t recorded if two of these were male and the other canine. Averages for the divisions in order A-D, play-offs


In the same order for clubs but with play-off figures included in the divisional tallies

89 Álftanes
59 KFS
131 Kormákur/Hvöt
130 Þróttur V.

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Post by prorege » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:50 pm

Edinburgh City give attendances in their match programme. Other than the Scottish Cup games there are "head counts" so the paid attendance may well be rather less.

So far:

Lowland League
Vale of Leithen (A) 65
Spartans (A) 80
Dalbeattie Star (H) 60
Gala FR (H) 100, (A) 110
Selkirk (H) 140
Stirling University (A) 50
Whitehill (H) 120
Preston (A) 110
Gretna (A) 90
Edinburgh Uni (H) 105
Threave (H) 85, (A) 90
E Kilbride (H) 110

Scottish Cup
Fort William (H) 156
Coldstream (H) 138
Auchinleck (H) 573
Brora (H) 601

League Cup
Spartans (A) 150
Whitehill (H) 90

South Challenge Cup
Easthouses (A) 55
LTHV (A) 95

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Post by Scottish » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:32 pm

Thanks. A pity more don't do the same. It never ceases to amaze me that the crowds that should be the easiest to count often aren't.

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Post by prorege » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:10 am

And rom the current season Whitehill Werlfare programme:

Lowland League
Dalbeattie (A) 106
Edinburgh Uni (H) 88
BSC Glasgow (H) 123
Gretna (H) 148
Gala (A) 125
Threave (A) ??
Edinburgh City (A) 120
Spartans (H) 260
Selkirk (A) 105
Vale of Leithen (A) 85
Stirling Uni (A) 85
Preston (H) 105
E Kilbride (H) 66

Scottish Cup
Girvan (H) 164
E Stirling (H) 350

Image Printers Cup
Ormiston (H) 85

South Challenge Cup
Ormiston (A) 51

CSS (A) 63
LTHV (A) 30
Ha,ilton Accies XI (H) 114
Penicuik Ath (H) 102
Newtongrange Star (H) 195

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Post by prorege » Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:15 pm

Penicuik Athletic's programme includes attendance figures for their games in the East Super League and other competitions:

Armadale Thistle H 170, A 120
Ballingry Rovers A 56
Bo'ness United H 350, A 350
Bonnyrigg Rose A 280
Broxburn Ath A 100
Camelon H 165
Carnoustie H 135
Fauldhouse United H 190
HOB Haws A 105
Kelty Hearts H 180, A 100
Linlithgow Rose A 380
Lochee United A 85
Musselburgh Athletic H 185
Newtongrange Star H 240, A 250
Sauchie A 95

Scottish Junior Cup
Lanark United A 100
Maybole H 240
Arbroath Vics H 170
Spey Valley H 215
Arthurlie H 550 (est)

East of Scotland Cup
Edinburgh United H 145

Fife and Lothians Cup
Harthill Royal A 52
Pumpherston H 140

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Post by Scottish » Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:57 pm

Many thanks. Still don't know why more clubs don't do the same. It's hardly the most difficult task in the world for most.

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Post by Swampy » Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:52 pm

Excellent thread.

Brazil has a four-level national structure with state leagues running parallel, usually at a different time of year. Some of these state leagues are pretty strong, most notably the Paulista, Carioca, Gaucho and Mineiro top flights (in (debatable) descending order of quality.) Others, in far-flung states like Tocantins, Acre, and Maranhão have much weaker leagues. As such, it's far too simplistic to say that any given regional league is level 5. Let's take the Paulista A1 as an example. Here you'll find many teams who compete nationally in Serie A - famous clubs like Santos, Corinthians, Palmeiras, and of course São Paulo. But they play in a group stage against the likes of Portuguesa (recently relgated to Serie C), Bragantino (Serie B), and right down to lowly Marília (completely absent from the national setup.) The aforementioned state of Acre has no team above Serie D (and only a couple at that level.)

Anyway, I'm getting to a point here ;) in Brazil crowd figures are, mercifully, very well-reported. National levels 1-4 often release attendance data on the same day as the match, and the major state leagues have similar data.

Now, with that in mind, I've taken as a completely hypothetical 'level 5' the third level of the Paulista, namely Paulista A3. The reason I've chosen that one is that it's a level where no Serie D (or above) clubs compete.

You can see the full attendance data for this league here:

http://int.soccerway.com/national/brazi ... on/r29953/

Note that in Brazil it's quite common for teams to use more than one stadium over the course of the season. Virtually every club has a home ground, usually used only by themselves (it may be owned either by the club or the municipality) and occasionally shared, but for a variety of reasons they may play elsewhere now and again.

In any case, you'll see here that the highest 'level 5' average in this example is Votuporanguense with 1,494. (Not a great deal lower than the level four average dealt with here: http://scottishleague.net/forum/viewtop ... =23&t=4707.) The lowest is Cotia with 61. The lowest single-game attendance was at whipping boys Francana, where 16 souls paid into the 15,000-capacity Lanchão for a 2-1 loss to Nacional-SP in February.

So yeah, long story short, Brazil has no level 5 but I wrote all this anyway :P

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