Average attendances in the League of Ireland have increased this year according to new data released the FAI.
With the opening third of Premier Division ties now having been completed (as well as ten rounds of the First Division), the governing body have been able to obtain a decent sample size as to the popularity of live football this season – and the results are very encouraging.
Overall, 152,268 spectators have taken in the 105 matches across both the Premier and First Divisions – a 17% increase in the average on this time last season.
In terms of individual teams’ attendances, Cork City are way out on top. John Caulfield’s side’s blistering start to the new campaign – winning all eleven of their league games thus far – has seen the crowds flock to Turners Cross, with an average attendance of almost 4,700. Reigning champions Dundalk are, understandably, their closest challengers at just over 3,250, while Shamrock Rovers’ Tallaght Stadium has seen an average attendance of around 3,000.
Waterford United also find themselves in the top ten despite being in the First Division, while Derry City’s temporary relocation to Maginn Park, and the substantial drop in capacity that comes with that, has severely impacted their figures.
Top 10 Average Attendances
4,694 – Cork City
3,265 – Dundalk
3,014 – Shamrock Rovers
1,920 – Limerick
1,842 – Bohemians
1,650 – St Patrick’s Athletic
1,606 – Sligo Rovers
1,592 – Waterford
1,427 – Derry City
1,354 – Galway United
Cork City also account for three of the five highest attendances this season. Interestingly, the highest-attended match so far this year was the one between the league leaders and Dundalk, which drew in a crowd of almost 6,750. Granted, the fact that it was between the two best teams in the country would have been a big factor, but that it took place on a Saturday afternoon, and less than 24 hours after an Ireland international at the Aviva, makes the figure that bit more intriguing.
City’s clash against Bray Wanderers just last week was the second highest, with the fixture against Derry City at the beginning of April coming in third.
Top Five Individual Matches
6,746 – Cork City v Dundalk, 25 March, Turner’s Cross
5,362 – Cork City v Bray Wanderers, 28 April, Turner’s Cross
5,275 – Cork City v Derry City, 7 April, Turner’s Cross
5,178 – Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians, 3 March, Tallaght Stadium
4,746 – Dundalk v Shamrock Rovers, 24 February, Oriel Park
With a greater average, it stands to reason that Cork City would also have a higher total attendance than the chasing pack, and that is indeed the case (though the difference in capacity between Turners Cross and Oriel Park should ba taken into account).
Premier Division Total Attendances
11,050 – Bohemians
5,176 – Bray Wanderers
23,468 – Cork City
8,562 – Derry City
4,677 – Drogheda United
19,589 – Dundalk
6,760 – Finn Harps
6,772 – Galway United
11,518 – Limerick
18,083 – Shamrock Rovers
8,030 – Sligo Rovers
8,248 – St Patrick’s Athletic
Regardless of divisions by club, the higher figures across the board bode well for the increasing interest in the league itself.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football podcast, we catch up with Cillian Sheridan, review all the latest fixtures and look ahead to this week’s League of Ireland matches.