A run-down of City's attendance figuresWe are pleased to report that attendances for the 2015/16 season showed a welcome modest increase on the previous season. The average number through the turnstiles was 4,008 including 436 away fans, compared to 3,863 in 2014/15, helped by the bumper crowds for the games with Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers and Plymouth Argyle. This was almost exactly in line with our forecasts made last June – overall we were 20 per game out, average home support was 34 below and away turnout 14 above the estimate.
The forecasts were as before prepared by a panel of members of the Gates Committee, which comprises members of Club staff, the Club Board and the Trust Board, under an independent Chair and which also advise the Club Board on ticket pricing and other relevant issues.
This is important work because the Club is very reliant upon gate income – turnover from home attendances (including both season tickets and individual match revenue) is more than a third of the Club’s normal total for the season, excluding cup runs and transfers - and this prediction information plays an important role in setting and refining the budget assessments.
The procedure is that as soon as the fixtures for the coming season are published in mid-June, three members of the Gates Committee make independent predictions of the potential attendance for each and every match, taking into account the date, day and time of kick-off, the status of the opponents, previous away contingent, etc. These assessments are then combined to give an overall projection.
In projecting attendances, the Gates Committee take into account all the information available, including past attendances, the previous league position of each club, their away following and the date of the game. Of course, each season we lose six and gain six opponents, which makes the task challenging; this year we have lost southern clubs and gained northern ones, which we think will impact slightly on the averages.
The most important variable is that Tuesday evening games are for a variety of reasons less well attended than weekend ones, a trend which seems to be becoming more pronounced over time as more midweek games are televised. The typical attendance is now 20-25% lower than for a Saturday or Bank Holiday game against the same opposition, though revenue is not reduced by as much as there are fewer reduced price attendees and season ticket income is of course the same for all fixtures.
The actual gate figures are monitored regularly by the Gates Committee against the predictions as the season progresses. As part of our normal information flows to supporters, the attendance figures for each game are published in the subsequent match programme, and we have also started comparing these with forecasts on a regular basis as supporters find this valuable.
For 2015/16 the variances for individual games were higher than in the previous season, the biggest overestimates being the midweek games against Portsmouth and Oxford, the latter of course was moved to a Tuesday night following the cancellation of the Saturday game. Luton turnout was also below expectations, reflecting their poor run at the time and Christmas shopping.
Games that comfortably beat our predictions were Yeovil, helped by the emotion around the marking of five years since the death of Adam Stansfield; Wimbledon which was a bank holiday game just before the Liverpool cup tie; Plymouth; and the celebration of Northampton’s promotion which swelled the away contingent by around 500.
The panel has already made its projections for the coming season and the Club are analysing these. The process was slightly more complicated for the coming season as timing etc. of the Old Grandstand redevelopment was unknown when the forecasts had to be made. We will report on actuals compared to forecasts at regular intervals over the season to come.