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Post by Scottish » Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:41 pm

Portugal’s Primeira Liga has moved from sixteen clubs last season to eighteen in 2014-15. As a result just one club was relegated and second last went into a play-off against fourth in the Segunda Liga. It was a straightforward system of each team playing the other home and away, thirty games each and 240 in all.

If Norway is a good example of how a sixteen-club league can function in a small country, Portugal is the exact opposite and it’s difficult to see any justification to adding more to the top flight. Like Scotland the league is dominated by big clubs, though in the Portuguese case it’s three unlike the familiar two (now one) we have.

The average of 10,238 is 13th in Europe and 22nd in the world. Only thirteen European leagues and twenty-three worldwide recorded five-figure averages. It’s not the average crowds that are Portugal’s problem it’s the extraordinary long tail in the league. The three usual suspects are way ahead of the others. Two more claim five-figure gates. None of the rest average 5,000. Highest last year was 63,982 and the lowest 417 – one of seven matches to draw fewer than 1,000 spectators. Over 25% of league games were watched by gates of under 2,000 and less than 100 of the 240 games drew 5,000 or more.

Given that almost half of those came from the big three then the disparities in attendances in Portugal becoming gapingly apparent. At the top end, Benfica’s position as one of the best supported clubs in the world remains constant – 28th globally and 24th in Europe.

BTW, those sub-1,000 gates weren’t recorded at some outpost on Madeira or the Azores. One was just outside Porto and the others on the Algarve.

43613 Benfica
33703 Sporting Club
28685 Porto
11194 Vitória Guimarães
10484 Sporting Braga
4541 Académica de Coimbra
4061 Belenenses
4027 Gil Vicente
3746 Arouca
3561 Marítimo
3283 Vitória Setúbal
3248 Paços de Ferreira
2775 Estoril
2350 Rio Ave
2315 Olhanense
2228 Nacional

Relative to its top flight the Portuguese Segunda Liga must be one of (if not the) worst supported leagues in the world. With an average of just 752 it languishes in 40th place, way behind many smaller countries. Admittedly it has twenty-two clubs, a total of forty-two games each and 462 for the league but even that should be no excuse for just five of those clubs to record an average of over 1,000 and for none to reach as high as 1,500.

Incredibly, this tier has increased its membership by two this season as the top two Portuguese levels move from thirty-eight to forty-two. This is the equivalent of the Scottish Premiership absorbing the top six in the Championship and every other club forming one division. Even advocates of reconstruction (well, this one anyway) recognise a format such as this would be disastrous.

There’s no reason to think the same won’t apply in Portugal either. Especially in a league which already admits reserve teams ineligible for promotion. Penafiel gained promotion last season despite finishing behind Porto II. This year they take on the real thing. And CD Aves gained their play-off spot thanks to finishing a point ahead of both the Benfica and Sporting B teams.

The highest crowd last season was just 4,131 and the lowest a mere eighty-six. Only eighty-four games – just over one-third – were watched by 1,000 or more.

The Portuguese website http://www.ligaportugal.pt covers the top two divisions and knockout tournaments in an easy to understand format even if you have little or no knowledge of Portuguese. The ‘Estatísticas’ tab will take you to anything you could possibly want by way of match details.

1435 Moreirense
1077 Académico Viseu
1069 Leixões
1047 Penafiel
1041 Portimonense
980 Sporting Farense
955 Chaves
865 Sporting Club B
731 Feirense
723 Trofense
720 Beira-Mar
673 Benfica B
608 União Madeira
590 Porto B
577 Tondela
565 Santa Clara
558 CD Aves
523 Marítimo B
517 Sporting Braga B
499 UD Oliveirense
403 Atlético CP
377 Sporting Covilhã

The Portuguese third level is the comparatively new Senior National Championship, organised into eight zones then further promotion and relegation groups. Although this is the lowest level operated by the Portuguese federation, clubs can move to and from the district levels below.

I have no attendance details for this level.

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