For ongoing discussion and information on global crowd figures
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Post by Scottish » Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:41 pm

Scotland has dropped in the rankings in recent years. This is due almost entirely to the absence of Rangers in the top flight. On the one hand that the second best supported team – and one which still had one of the thirty highest averages in the world last season – can be missing and the Scottish Premiership can only just miss out on the top twenty leagues in the world is a healthy sign. On the other hand the league is still heavily dependent on the other half of the Old Firm. With the absence of Hearts and Hibs too then prepare for a further drop at the end of this season.

A pessimist might point out that by that stage the Scottish average will be below half what it was at the end of the 20th century. That though is comparing apples to pears. The reason Scottish crowds rose so high in the late 1990s was that every team in a league of ten played each other four times. Since 2000 the number of teams has increased by two – a sure way to water down attendances -, guaranteed matches against the Old Firm fallen by a quarter (even before the demise of Rangers) and only four of the ten ‘other’ clubs would play the Old Firm four times a season. Add in just over 25% more games per season and it’s obvious crowds were going to fall.

The real test of supporter levels is going to come when Rangers and the Edinburgh pair are back in the Premiership. But there are indications that things are not good if not as disastrous as sometimes painted. Looking at games between ‘provincial’ sides from ten or twenty years ago crowds are definitely down – though they have some way to go before they hit the appalling levels of the 1980s. And satellite TV coverage of virtually every away Old Firm game has hit support too. Unlike fans of the big clubs in England who still attend live matches in numbers, Old Firm fans are staying in or heading for the boozer when their team is playing away.

So, to the headline figures. 21st in the world, 12th in Europe and still with one of the best spectator to population ratios anywhere, there are still reasons to be cheerful. Every country with higher averages than the Scottish Premiership has a higher population and with the solitary exception of Switzerland, at least double and usually far more.

The Premiership average last season was 10,243 – five per game ahead of the Portuguese. Celtic’s average put them sixteenth in the world and fifteenth in Europe. Only teams from Germany, England, Spain, the Netherlands and India averaged more. Celtic averaged more per game than any club in France, Italy, Mexico, USA, Argentina and Brazil.

Thank you Doctor Pangloss!

Highest declared crowd last season was 52,670 and lowest 1,892.

The format, in case anyone needs reminding, (but I’ve done it on every other thread so why not here, on the assumption that visitors from Europe and beyond may not be familiar with it) is twelve clubs playing each other three times then splitting into top and bottom six and playing each other in their respective groups one more time. This can – and often does – create an imbalance between home and away games. It can be worse than in other countries where generally there is a difference of just one game. In Scotland the set-up has produced several instances of one team playing twenty at home and another eighteen. On the other hand, unlike elsewhere, it does not inherently create such an imbalance. It is perfectly feasible for all clubs to play nineteen home games.

The bottom team goes down and second last enters a play-off against the team which emerges victorious from the Championship play-offs.

47079 Celtic
14123 Hearts
13085 Aberdeen
11361 Hibernian
7599 Dundee United
5173 Motherwell
5001 Partick Thistle
4511 St Mirren
4250 Kilmarnock
3833 St Johnstone
3787 Ross County
3558 Inverness Caledonian Thistle

The second level Championship has ten teams and a simple structure which sees them play each other four times. The champions go up and there is a play-off format in which fourth plays third with the winner of that then facing the runners-up, the victor of which takes on second last in the top flight for a place in the Premiership. All play-offs are over two legs. The bottom team goes down and second last goes into a play-off though this time along with three other clubs from the third level from the start. The successful team needs to negotiate two ties both over two legs to secure the one place available.

Last season’s average of 1,845 gave Scotland 23rd place in the rankings. At current levels this season will definitely bring a top ten place and possibly top four or five.

Highest crowd last season was 10,718 and lowest 318. Both these figures were lower than their third level equivalents.

4738 Dundee
3233 Falkirk
1792 Hamilton Academical
1738 Queen of the South
1686 Morton
1659 Raith Rovers
1157 Livingston
938 Dumbarton
876 Alloa Athletic
776 Cowdenbeath

The third level League One has an identical format to the Championship except that the play-offs take in the second last from the higher division immediately. The same applies to second last in this tier and their play-offs against fourth level sides. Attendance figures for last season are totally distorted by the presence of Rangers and the knock-on effect for the rest by way of Rangers fans visiting their grounds. The average was 5,517 – third best in the world behind England and Germany and a position it’s safe to say won’t be repeated any time soon. The highest was 45,462 and the lowest 326. The common factor was that both matches involved Stranraer.

42647 Rangers
3647 Dunfermline Athletic
1884 Ayr United
1586 Airdrieonians
1251 East Fife
1054 Arbroath
900 Brechin City
865 Forfar Athletic
826 Stenhousemuir
802 Stranraer

The fourth level League Two is dealt with on the general Level Four thread.

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