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Post by Scottish » Sat Jan 31, 2015 8:24 pm

The Netherlands punches well above its weight with regard to attendances. This country of just under 17M is 8th in the world and 6th in Europe with just the traditional European “Big Five”, India and Mexico ahead of their average of 19,519. Ajax are the 11th best supported team in the world with only teams from Germany England and Spain ahead of them.

Those are impressive facts. No South American country with a higher average. No team from Italy or France better supported than the leading club. Many grounds are packed to almost capacity each week.

The highest crowd last season was 52,671 and the strength in depth of the Eredivisie is shown by the fact that there were no gates below 5,000 – 5,226 being the lowest.

Nor can the high level of Dutch crowds be attributed to a small number of teams playing each other three or four times. There is an eighteen-club top division, with all teams meeting twice, for a total of thirty-four games each and 306 in all. There are no splits though the teams finishing 5th-8th play-off for a European spot.

One downside is that only the bottom team is guaranteed to be relegated with second and third last entering play-offs, which appear to have been influenced by neighbouring Belgium in that they are not as simple as they could be.

Because the Europa League play-offs were all top division v top division I have included them in the figures.

50923 Ajax Amsterdam
45606 Feyenoord
33553 PSV Eindhoven
29546 Twente Enschede
22826 Heerenveen
20085 Groningen
18761 Vitesse Arnhem
17915 NAC Breda
17203 Utrecht
15340 AZ Alkmaar
13973 Roda JC Kerkrade
12036 PEC Zwolle
11065 NEC Nijmegen
10845 ADO Den Haag
9728 Cambuur
8339 Heracles
7630 Go Ahead Eagles
6251 RKC Waalwijk

The second level Eerste Divisie has twenty teams, including reserve teams (Jong) playing each other twice with the champions going up. Then come the play-offs and all their complications. Teams finishing down to eighth have a chance of going up. There’s a preliminary round which took in teams from 6th – 8th last season as well as Sparta Rotterdam who finished as low as 16th but qualified thanks to a high position at the halfway stage! The two winners at this stage (over two legs) then join the teams finishing 2nd - 5th plus second and third bottom of the Eredivisie. This leads to four further two-legged matches then two more with the winners of these successful in gaining/retaining Eredivisie status.

At the bottom end there MAY be relegation depending on the circumstances of the winners of the third level leagues.

The average crowd for the Eerste Divisie was 3,097, making it 17th in the rankings with the highest 13,760 and lowest 574. Because the play-offs included teams from the top division I have excluded them from the figures.

9301 Willem II
5773 De Graafschap
5371 Sparta Rotterdam
4230 MVV Maastricht
4028 VVV-Venlo
3605 Den Bosch
3275 Volendam
2929 Fortuna Sittard
2911 Dordrecht
2758 FC Eindhoven
2690 Emmen
2522 Helmond Sport
2391 SBV Excelsior
1994 Jong PSV
1934 SC Telstar
1480 Achilles ‘29
1469 Oss
1241 Jong Ajax
1085 Almere City
880 Jong FC Twente

In keeping with the modern penchant for describing third tiers of the game as “League One” or some such, the Dutch terms theirs the ‘Topklasse.’ Where it is different from similar set-ups is that though split into two divisions these are not based on geography.

We know of the bitter sectarian differences which disfigure football in Scotland and Northern Ireland but we rarely consider that such differences once existed elsewhere and the Dutch third level is an example of this. One group plays on a Saturday and the other a Sunday, a legacy of the days when amateur leagues (as until recently these were) were divided into Protestants (Saturdays) and Catholics (Sundays). Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland though, these distinctions have been disappearing in the Netherlands for going on half a century and while Dutch hooligans can be as violent as anywhere else, rarely is this to be found as a result of religion, with the exception of the hateful anti-Semitism directed at Ajax.

Both divisions consist of sixteen teams with the bottom three going down and fourth last into a play-off. At the top the two champions play-off for the overall title but often the winners refuse to accept promotion. Leading amateur team IJsselmeervogels are vociferous opponents of professionalism and, whilst taking part in the league, show an attitude reminiscent of Queen’s Park in the 19th century. They resolutely refuse to shoddy their hands with full-time pros and stick instead to playing with semi-professionals whilst disdaining this status for themselves.

In other instances teams at this level are found wanting of obtaining a proper licence to play in a higher tier.

The Saturday league is considerably better attended than the Sunday set-up. Highest here last season was 8,500 and lowest 250. On Sunday it was 1,500 (though 3,000 for the title decider) and 100.

Apart from the overall two-leg championship decider there was also a play-off for the Saturday title as two teams finished level on points and goal difference wasn’t used to separate the teams. None of these matches have been included in my figures as the overall two-leg decider involved teams from different divisions and the Saturday decider took place at a neutral venue.

The average for Saturdays was 1,163 and for Sundays 504 Overall it was 834.

2513 IJsselmeervogels
2491 Spakenburg
1358 Katwijk
1350 Rijnsburge Boys
1280 Kozzaken Boys
1210 GVVV Gelders
1180 HHC Hardenberg
973 Noordwijk
940 Barendrecht
900 Lisse
853 Scheveningen
800 Excelsior Maassluis
787 Excelsior ‘31
747 Ter Leede
627 Capelle
593 ONS Sneek

767 HBS-Craeyenhout
746 De Treffers
740 Sint Bravo
735 ADO ‘20
664 JVC Cuijk
557 Amsterdam FC
513 Be Quick 1887
510 UNA/Brinvast
444 HSC’21 Haaksbergen
396 Lienden
367 Leonidas Rotterdam
363 WKE Emmen
340 Haaglandia/Sir Winston
339 Juliana ‘31
311 EVV Echt
233 Chabab

I have no figures for the levels below this.

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