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We are drawing ever nearer to the end of the 2017 season in the League of Ireland. Cork City are runaway leaders in the Premier Division with the gap to second placed Dundalk an impressive seventeen points. The Lilywhites are another seven points ahead of Derry City in third. Waterford are seven points clear at the top of the First and, with only one promotion place up for grabs, has rendered a large portion of the remaining games in that tier dead rubber matches. The only area of interest that remains is who will occupy the relegation places.
To date, based on the 240 fixtures played across the two divisions, 325,778 people have attended games in the League of Ireland. Well, maybe they have. Our figures are based on 203 official figures and 37 estimates. Our estimates are drawn from the best guesses from Extratime.ie reporters / officials / other journalists and must be taken with a healthy margin of error. We’d like to thank all the club officials that have provided numbers to us. They are greatly appreciated.
Of the 325,778 people (and at this juncture we will stop caveating that our figures include estimates), 283,331 of those went to Premier Division games which works out at an average of 1,921. The First Division managed 42,477, with is an average of 461.
Comparing to 2016, the Premier Division average is up over 30% (2016 – 1,471) whilst the First Division is slightly down (2016 – 477). Overall 2017 is on track to easily beat the 2016 totals. Instead of that becoming a headline, it is important to look at these figures club by club to get a feel for why the increase is happening and where. In the case of attendances, a rising tide does not lift all boats. Below we have looked at each club in isolation and compared their current season stats with that of the end of 2016 ones.
Before we go into the Club by Club information, here are a few of the facts and figures around this season’s League of Ireland attendances to date.
Highlights and Lowlights – The Facts and Figures
The total League of Ireland audience to date for 2017 is 325,778 across 240 games (203 official attendance figures and 37 estimates) with an average match crowd of 1,357.
In terms of overall crowds, Cork City’s total of 50,717 represents 15.5% of the total league attendance. Shamrock Rovers have seen 39,235 people turn their stiles with is 12% of the overall League of Ireland crowds. Dundalk (11.4%), Bohemians (7.7%) and Sligo Rovers (6.7%) make up the top five.
Athlone Town sit at the foot of this table with an attendance percentage of 0.5% of the overall. The First Division represents 12.9% of the attendances in the league but excluding Waterford, that drops to 7.8%.
As teams played a different number of home games, the average per game is a better measure and once again Cork City top the charts. They have an average gate of 4,226. Shamrock Rovers are next with 3,018 followed by Dundalk on 2,870. The top five is completed by Bohemians (1,943) and Limerick (1,702). The best of the First Division comes in at 7th – Waterford (1,527).
The best attended fixture to date was Cork City’s game against Dundalk in Turner’s Cross (6,746). Cork City feature in six of the top ten. Shamrock Rovers are involved in five.
Clubs by Total / Average Attendances
|St. Patrick's Athletic||17,783||1,482|
|Galway United FC||14,336||1,195|
Top Ten Fxtures
|Cork City||2||1||Bray Wanderers||5,361|
|Cork City||3||0||Derry City||5,275|
|Cork City||4||1||Shamrock Rovers||5,135|
|Cork City||4||1||Limerick FC||4,725|
|Shamrock Rovers||1||1||St Pats||3,925|
|Cork City||5||0||Drogheda Utd||3,844|
CLUB BY CLUB (Estimates in RED)
At the start of the season, we managed to get official attendances but since May we have received none. From talking to reporters and photographers at the games, we can say the crowds have been on average 100 for the games since, but we do hope to get official numbers. Last year Athlone Town averaged 156 on the gate and this year based on a large volume of estimates we have it coming in as 150. Moving on….
|Athlone Town||1||0||Waterford FC||326|
|Athlone Town||0||3||Longford Town||380|
|Athlone Town||3||3||Cabinteely FC||142|
|Athlone Town||1||0||Wexford FC||146|
|Athlone Town||2||1||Cobh Ramblers||100|
|Athlone Town||1||6||Waterford FC||100|
|Athlone Town||2||2||Longford Town||100|
|Athlone Town||1||1||Cabinteely FC||100|
|Athlone Town||1||1||Wexford FC||150|
It’s been a strong year compared to 2016 for Bohemians. It was a decent year in 2016 with an average of 1,627 with the crowd numbers dropping sub 1,000 only twice, but this year they are averaging 1,943 with no sub 1,000 crowds. Dublin derbies and the visits of Cork City and Dundalk the highlights for the season gates so far.
|Bohemians||1||1||Galway United FC||1,137|
|Bohemians||0||4||St. Patrick's Athletic||2,600|
It’s been quite a season for Bray Wanderers. I’m not going to go into any of it here but I will point to one interesting piece of information. In recent statements Bray bemoaned the lack of crowds going to the Carlisle Grounds. Having reviewed the last decade of Bray attendances, it would appear that this season, with an average attendance of 1,095, surpasses the ten previous. Now there are more games to play and that average could drop but as it stands it is lining up to be Bray’s best in a decade for the number passing through the turnstiles.
|Bray Wanderers||5||3||Finn Harps||1,117|
|Bray Wanderers||2||1||Drogheda United||638|
|Bray Wanderers||0||1||Limerick FC||649|
|Bray Wanderers||1||0||Galway United FC||477|
|Bray Wanderers||4||2||Shamrock Rovers||2,225|
|Bray Wanderers||1||1||St. Patrick's Athletic||1,287|
|Bray Wanderers||2||2||Sligo Rovers||772|
|Bray Wanderers||3||2||Derry City||799|
|Bray Wanderers||0||2||Cork City||1,879|
|Bray Wanderers||2||3||Finn Harps||563|
It’s Cabinteely’s third year in the league and having won many online fans with their promotional antics, the crowd numbers for the last two seasons have remained similar. They averaged 352 last year and this year they are at 345. No major highlights or lowlights re crowd numbers but they are 4th in the table which is a huge improvement from last and second last in the first two seasons.
|Cabinteely FC||2||0||Wexford FC||346|
|Cabinteely FC||4||1||Cobh Ramblers||378|
|Cabinteely FC||0||0||Waterford FC||569|
|Cabinteely FC||0||0||Longford Town||237|
|Cabinteely FC||2||0||Athlone Town||212|
|Cabinteely FC||0||1||Wexford FC||137|
|Cabinteely FC||2||1||Cobh Ramblers||208|
|Cabinteely FC||1||1||Waterford FC||500|
If it was last season Cobh Ramblers would be preparing for a shot at promotion through a play-off but instead they are hoping to claw back seven points in the remaining games on Waterford United or else they will be condemned to another season in the First. Last season’s campaign averaged 403 on the gate and this season has mostly similar numbers but is slightly down for now with an average of 371. The games at the end of last season pushed up their average but with the one team up structure, this may not happen if the league is over as a contest.
|Cobh Ramblers||1||1||Wexford FC||320|
|Cobh Ramblers||5||1||Athlone Town||312|
|Cobh Ramblers||2||0||Longford Town||350|
|Cobh Ramblers||2||0||Cabinteely FC||250|
|Cobh Ramblers||0||0||Waterford FC||650|
|Cobh Ramblers||1||0||Wexford FC||342|
|Cobh Ramblers||3||1||Athlone Town||406|
|Cobh Ramblers||2||0||Longford Town||300|
Cork City are strolling to the league title with 17 points between themselves and Dundalk in second. They are also leading the crowd figures too. Last season they averaged 2,533 in Turner’s Cross. As it stands this season they are averaging an incredible 4,226. The average figure is GREATER than the entire crowd totals amassed by clubs like Athlone Town, Cabinteely, Longford Town, UCD and Wexford across the season to date. To put it into clearer terms, one game in Turner’s Cross draws a crowd equivalent to almost an entire season of games for some other clubs. The best crowd of the season goes to Cork City too with 6,746 in attendance in March for the visit of Dundalk.
|Cork City||4||0||Galway United FC||3,335|
|Cork City||2||1||Sligo Rovers||2,722|
|Cork City||3||0||Derry City||5,275|
|Cork City||2||1||Bray Wanderers||5,361|
|Cork City||5||0||Finn Harps||3,837|
|Cork City||5||0||Drogheda United||3,844|
|Cork City||4||1||Shamrock Rovers||5,135|
|Cork City||4||1||Limerick FC||4,725|
|Cork City||1||0||St. Patrick's Athletic||2,403|
|Cork City||2||1||Galway United FC||3,744|
It’s been many years since we got an official attendance from Derry City. No point lingering here. Our estimates are below. We will continue to request official figures.
|Derry City||4||0||Drogheda United||1,400|
|Derry City||2||3||Bray Wanderers||1,500|
|Derry City||0||2||Finn Harps||1,500|
|Derry City||1||1||Limerick FC||1,500|
|Derry City||2||2||St. Patrick's Athletic||1,500|
|Derry City||3||1||Shamrock Rovers||1,500|
|Derry City||2||1||Galway United FC||1,500|
|Derry City||1||2||Cork City||1,500|
|Derry City||4||0||Sligo Rovers||1,400|
|Derry City||3||0||Limerick FC||1,400|
It’s not been a good season for Drogheda United. They sit at the foot of the table six points adrift of second last and nine away from safety. It looks like they will go straight down after one season in the top flight. In the First Division last year they averaged 583, but despite their likely relegation, they have averaged 833 this season. Having only broken the 1,000 mark once last season in the final day clash with UCD, they have managed the feat four times this season.
|Drogheda Utd||2||0||St. Patrick's Athletic||1,020|
|Drogheda Utd||1||4||Cork City||1,050|
|Drogheda Utd||2||1||Shamrock Rovers||1,070|
|Drogheda Utd||1||1||Sligo Rovers||803|
|Drogheda Utd||2||2||Galway United FC||796|
|Drogheda Utd||0||0||Bray Wanderers||479|
|Drogheda Utd||0||0||Derry City||605|
|Drogheda Utd||0||2||Limerick FC||600|
|Drogheda Utd||0||2||Finn Harps||564|
|Drogheda Utd||0||1||St. Patrick's Athletic||850|
|Drogheda Utd||0||1||Cork City||533|
It was always a lot to ask of Dundalk to match or emulate the 2016 season. With Cork City likely to take their crown and with an early European exit, 2017 has not compared to the highs previously experienced. Despite that, crowd numbers are better than last year, slightly. 2016 saw an average of 2,738 but this year they sit at 2,870. Like so many clubs, opening day was their best crowd with 4,746 in attendance for their win over Shamrock Rovers.
|Dundalk||3||0||St. Patrick's Athletic||2,675|
|Dundalk||2||0||Galway United FC||2,000|
Finn Harps are one of a number of teams exchanging nervous glances at the bottom three places on the Premier Division table. The sit fourth last, or safety, with a game in hand on those teams around them. Despite their league position, they have improved on last year’s crowds. 1,210 was their 2016 average but this year so far they have averaged 1,376 and have impressively only dropped below 1,000 twice. They dropped below nine times last season. Their best gate was in July for the visit of Derry City (2,890).
|Finn Harps||0||1||Cork City||1,845|
|Finn Harps||1||1||Galway United FC||1,022|
|Finn Harps||2||1||Sligo Rovers||1,751|
|Finn Harps||0||2||Drogheda United||905|
|Finn Harps||0||3||Bray Wanderers||702|
|Finn Harps||3||1||St. Patrick's Athletic||1,583|
|Finn Harps||3||2||Limerick FC||1,288|
|Finn Harps||0||1||Shamrock Rovers||1,281|
|Finn Harps||0||2||Derry City||2,890|
|Finn Harps||1||3||Galway United FC||1,000|
Galway loiter on the brink of Premier Division departure as they sit in third from bottom. Last year we said they had a steady enough season with a steady enough crowd. The crowd is almost the same as last year but they will be in a dogfight to escape the drop. Last year’s average of 1,169 has been surpassed with 1,195 this year so far. Can the Tribesman and women get behind their side to help them maintain Premier Division survival? Time will tell. Like so many other clubs, the opening day crowd of 2,113 was their best of the season.
|Galway United||0||1||Drogheda United||2,113|
|Galway United||1||2||Shamrock Rovers||1,051|
|Galway United||1||1||Sligo Rovers||891|
|Galway United||1||1||St. Patrick's Athletic||1,119|
|Galway United||0||0||Derry City||723|
|Galway United||1||1||Cork City||1,231|
|Galway United||2||1||Finn Harps||1,009|
|Galway United||1||2||Bray Wanderers||1,022|
|Galway United||3||1||Limerick FC||1,471|
|Galway United||4||1||Drogheda United||1,028|
Like Waterford this year, Limerick provided a much needed boost to the average crowds in the First Division last year. Have they managed to maintain that into the Premier Division? Yes, yes they have. 1,133 was a strong average in the Premier Division last year so as a First Division side they were out performing many top tier teams. This year they have built on that. Averaging 1,702 in 2017, they almost broke 3,000 for the visit of Cork City and their lowest crowd (1,186 v Finn Harps) is better than their average crowd of last year.
|Limerick FC||5||1||Sligo Rovers||2,357|
|Limerick FC||1||1||Finn Harps||1,186|
|Limerick FC||0||3||Cork City||2,985|
|Limerick FC||3||0||Drogheda United||1,526|
|Limerick FC||1||1||Galway United FC||1,714|
|Limerick FC||1||1||Derry City||1,287|
|Limerick FC||5||3||Bray Wanderers||1,447|
|Limerick FC||2||2||St. Patrick's Athletic||1,470|
|Limerick FC||0||0||Sligo Rovers||1,327|
Longford Town suffered the blow of relegation last season as they sank back into the murky depths of the League Of Ireland’s second tier. They were averaging a crowd of 488 in the Premier in 2016 and so far this year there has been a drop on that average. 337 is the average attendance for their eleven home games ranging from a low of 211 (Wexford) to a high of 430 (Shelbourne).
|Longford Town||1||3||Cobh Ramblers||320|
|Longford Town||0||2||Cabinteely FC||321|
|Longford Town||0||0||Waterford FC||401|
|Longford Town||3||1||Athlone Town||407|
|Longford Town||5||0||Wexford FC||211|
|Longford Town||2||1||Cobh Ramblers||229|
|Longford Town||1||0||Cabinteely FC||327|
|Longford Town||0||1||Waterford FC||426|
Shamrock Rovers finished fourth last year and they lie in fourth place this year. In our summary piece at the end of last season in response to their season average crowd of 2,041 we said “Shamrock Rovers had the third best average in the league and only one of three clubs to surpass 2,000. Nevertheless the Tallaght based side will feel they can do better and improve on those numbers.” This season they now average an impressive 3,018 with both Dublin derby games against Bohemians surpassing 4,500. It has been a strong year for the attendances in Tallaght Stadium.
|Shamrock Rvrs||0||1||Derry City||3,251|
|Shamrock Rvrs||1||2||Cork City||3,045|
|Shamrock Rvrs||3||2||Finn Harps||2,510|
|Shamrock Rvrs||1||0||Sligo Rovers||2,641|
|Shamrock Rvrs||1||1||Limerick FC||2,570|
|Shamrock Rvrs||2||0||Galway United FC||1,234|
|Shamrock Rvrs||2||0||Bray Wanderers||1,758|
|Shamrock Rvrs||1||1||St. Patrick's Athletic||3,925|
|Shamrock Rvrs||4||1||Drogheda United||2,047|
|Shamrock Rvrs||0||2||Derry City||2,872|
Another season in the First Division is on the cards for the Tolka Park based outfit. Last season they averaged a gate of 552. This season that has dropped to 490. Long gone are the days of European and League glory for the Reds. It’s almost 13 years ago to the day (11th August 2004) since Shels faced Deportivo in Lansdowne in front of 24,000 spectators with Champions’ League Group Stage football on the horizon for those daring to dream. The opening day gate of 779 for the visit of Longford Town remains the best of the season for the Reds.
Sligo Rovers currently sit in the relegation places as the spectre of First Division football looms as a very real threat for the Bit O’Red. Despite the league position, the crowds have grown stronger as the season progresses. As with many clubs, the opening day fixture tends to be a strong one, in Sligo’s case the best with 2,138 in attendance for the visit of Dundalk. After that, the crowds faltered, but since the midseason break they have been strong. The club average this season is 1,675 which is slightly down on 2016’s count of 1,752.
|Sligo Rovers||1||1||St. Patrick's Athletic||1,087|
|Sligo Rovers||3||2||Bray Wanderers||1,387|
|Sligo Rovers||1||1||Derry City||1,827|
|Sligo Rovers||3||0||Limerick FC||1,427|
|Sligo Rovers||1||2||Cork City||1,583|
|Sligo Rovers||0||0||Finn Harps||1,876|
|Sligo Rovers||1||1||Galway United FC||1,679|
|Sligo Rovers||1||0||Shamrock Rovers||2,065|
|Sligo Rovers||1||1||Drogheda United||1,617|
|Sligo Rovers||1||1||St. Patrick's Athletic||1,788|
St. Patrick’s Athletic
The Saints have had a difficult year on the pitch as they flirted with the relegation battle at the foot of the Premier Division. Despite that, the club have improved on their crowds so far this season compared with last. 1,097 was the average crowd last season but in 2017 the average is 1,482. Another positive is the attendances have only dipped below 1,000 once this season, whereas last season over half the games failed to come close to passing that mark. Dublin derbies continue to prove profitable with the visits of Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers recording the Saints best gates of the year.
|St Pats||1||2||Bray Wanderers||1,722|
|St Pats||1||2||Finn Harps||895|
|St Pats||2||1||Shamrock Rovers||2,000|
|St Pats||0||2||Limerick FC||1,300|
|St Pats||0||3||Cork City||1,786|
|St Pats||2||0||Drogheda United||1,191|
|St Pats||1||1||Sligo Rovers||1,300|
|St Pats||1||1||Galway United FC||1,300|
|St Pats||2||1||Derry City||1,368|
|St Pats||3||1||Bray Wanderers||1,408|
No matter how well or badly the Students do, their gates seem to remain reasonably consistent. Last year they managed an average gate of 297 (however this was made up of a considerable number of estimates) and this year they have an average of 246. There are no outstanding fixtures to report on. The Students population in Belfield rarely breaks 400. Whilst the support may not be there for the club, they continue to churn out players that have left their mark on all the top clubs in the country. If you want to see some of the League of Ireland stars of the future, the Belfield Bowl has proven in the past the place to be.
What a difference less than a year can make. In October last year, the Blues had finished off a dire year for crowds at the RSC. They managed an average crowd of 277 with the opening day salvo of 720 their best attempt. This season, their lowest crowd has been 1,245 with an average of 1,527. In fact any combination of four games would easily beat their overall attendance count of 4,443 last season. Their best crowd of the season to date was surprisingly against Athlone Town with 1,932 coming to watch the current First Division league leaders.
|Waterford FC||3||0||Cabinteely FC||1,317|
|Waterford FC||2||0||Wexford FC||1,647|
|Waterford FC||2||1||Cobh Ramblers||1,675|
|Waterford FC||2||1||Athlone Town||1,932|
|Waterford FC||1||0||Longford Town||1,294|
|Waterford FC||3||0||Cabinteely FC||1,245|
|Waterford FC||2||1||Wexford FC||1,508|
|Waterford FC||4||0||Cobh Ramblers||1,852|
|Waterford FC||3||1||Athlone Town||1,517|
It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Wexford. They have played at home eleven times so far in the league and it has only yielded a single victory. With 16 points, they sit at the foot of the First Division. Last year, whilst in the Premier Division, they averaged a home gate of 569. This year that has dropped to 306. They have been within plus or minus 100 of their average all season with the exception of the visit of Waterford. The Southeast derby drew a crowd of 517. Their lowest crowd of the season was against Longford Town with 212 in attendance.
|Wexford FC||1||2||Athlone Town||323|
|Wexford FC||0||0||Longford Town||212|
|Wexford FC||1||2||Cobh Ramblers||386|
|Wexford FC||1||1||Cabinteely FC||228|
|Wexford FC||0||1||Waterford FC||517|
|Wexford FC||2||2||Athlone Town||261|
|Wexford FC||1||2||Longford Town||282|
|Wexford FC||0||2||Cobh Ramblers||281|