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Spurs have major Irons attendance problem looming



Blind Hammer looks at a continuing trend.

Earlier this season I pointed to a striking disparity in attendances between West Ham and Tottenham. In Europe in particular West Ham’s attendances were startlingly higher than that achieved by Spurs. Our gate against Rapid Vienne was, at over 50,000 – 100 per cent higher than the 25,000 attracted to Spurs for their equivalent fixture.

Sunday’s FA Cup fixtures reflected a similar trend. For our game against Leeds at the London Stadium 54,303 supporters packed themselves into the London Stadium.

This gate again considerably outgunned the attendance attracted to the Spur’s Stadium where only 40,310 watched their game.

For the Spurs game the stadium was only 2 thirds full, where at the London Stadium the gate approached capacity.

A shortfall in attendance of 14,000 is massive. If this trend continues it will, over time, seriously hit the competitiveness of Spurs in the London football market.

Before anybody says it was just because Spurs were playing lower league opposition we should remember that even when playing lower league opposition West ham’s gate at the London Stadium have never dipped below the mid 50,000s.

So in the equivalent FA Cup round in 2019 against Birmingham City, when the team was considerably less successful than they are now, West Ham attracted 54,840 supporters. This means that for nearly every game West Ham can expect to sell at least 50,000 tickets or more, whatever the opposition.

Declan Rice explained after the game why having a full stadium matters. It reinforces the bond between the supporters and the players and he related the anticipatory thrill of Bowen’s goal and the consequent eruption of joy. It is clear he is loving the atmosphere now at the Stadium and yearning for success to continue.

When Bill Kenwright, Chair of Everton, was asked to explain why Liverpool were a bigger club than Everton he focussed squarely on the ability of Liverpool to attract greater attendances, in their case because Anfield was bigger than Goodison.

Over seasons, greater football attendances amongst competing clubs inexorably grows a comparative disparity in the levels of supporter base. The bigger will continue to get bigger.

Of course all the PL games are also an automatic sell out as West Ham have the largest season ticket base in London.

As I mentioned last year, Arsene Wenger admitted that he feared West Ham inheriting the London Stadium and the impact over time of their increased support. He thought it could shake up and remould the shape of London football. He was bitter as he had to, in contrast, struggle to pay for his new Stadium.

Spurs are in a tricky situation. They have invested over a £1 billion in a gleaming new stadium, which is the envy of many. However they face financial pressures which will dwarf that suffered by Wenger. The cost of the stadium will hang heavy.

In contrast West ham achieved what has been described as the “Deal of the Century”. Low cost tickets to attract a whole new generation of Londoners and beyond was always the plan for growing the supporter base.

Certainly with their mortgage overheads Spurs do not have similar room for manoeuvre in offering cheap options for the new generation of London Supporters.

For the time being Spurs remain bigger than West Ham in terms of turnover and commercial clout. It is clear now though why Levy was desperate to stop West Ham winning their bid for the Olympic Stadium.

For the first time ever they need to start seriously looking over their shoulders. The grim new reality for them is that thousand of new supporters are now flocking to the London Stadium rather than White Hart Lane. Over time this will inevitably hurt them.

David Griffith

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About David Griffith

My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph. My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season. I became a season ticket holder in 1970. I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle. I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel. David Griffith aka Blind Hammer

8 comments on “Spurs have major Irons attendance problem looming

  1. Does this mean we should never own the stadium?

    • Not necessarily but any decision to own must be based on commercial interest rather than psychological emotion. If the club had a plan to reverse the current losses from using it as a multi-sport venue then it is worth considering. Being responsible for major loss making activities like Athletics is a real problem though. Making a business case to making Football pay is one thing, making multi use commercial is another. It would be financially mad to surrender our present advantageous terms for the emotional comfort blanket of ownership. Our present terms allow us to grow the club supporter base offering cheap access to Londoners, and those travelling in from surrounding counties. Most importantly it provides tickets affordable to working class families. For too long Football has been on a path with expensive tickets driving access only to middle / upper class families, a treat only for the comparatively well off.

  2. I have been saying this for some considerable time, and that is, the move to the London Stadium has the potential to propel West Ham to challenge even Manchester United as being the biggest club in English football. The London Stadium is the best connected stadium for transport in Europe, maybe the world. This is NOT an exaggeration. The catchment area for West Ham fans is now the largest in London. You can get to Stratford from Kent in 8 minutes. On comparable European games we attract nearly double the attendance of Spurs.in their shinny new stadium.
    This is why West Ham have been pushing the word LONDON on its badge and all marketing. We are now the best supported team in the capital. The opportunities are endless. Don’t full for other teams and pundits saying it’s a joke that West Ham use the word London on their badge. They are saying this because they are really worried that West Ham United can become The Team of London. Yes it will require us to continue improvement on the pitch, but trust me, other teams are really worried at the potential we have.

  3. It’s true with high speed trains from Kent to Stratford international, and with Kent having no premier league team, the Kent fan base should be a big target for the club. Essex has always been traditionally a catchment area as overspill to east London, but Stratford opens up Kent as a big catchment area now also. The club should capitalise on it.

  4. Slowly the Big Picture is being revealed to all of us supporters and there are times when we need to hold our hands up.
    The psychological emotion of ground ownership has been a MASSIVE hurdle to overcome, and when you look at it in the cold light of day, especially within today’s modern game, we are in an Enviable & Perfect position.
    I craved ground ownership like most supporters but I didn’t realise the financial implications along with constraints like player wages. Who doesn’t like to see the spuds on their knee’s, especially when they’ve tried so hard to keep us on ours, including a cheeky attempt to move over to EAST London.
    I wholeheartedly agree with the post and all of the comments and I truly believe as Eug stated that, our potential cannot be underestimated as we are a club on the rise!

  5. One thing not factored in to this debate is price point, we have the cheapest tickets anywhere, yesterday there were a number of supporters that clearly didn’t support either West Ham or Leeds and just came to watch a game, which by the way is also great but am making an assumption that part of the attractiveness of that is price. Totenham and Arsenal are very expensive to support, Tottenham also have the greatest revenues from Hospitality in the PL if we do ever buy the Stadium learning from how they have done that and redesigning the existing space should be a factor, I know a few Spuds supporters who if the game isn’t going well crack on with the hospitality and stay even when the team has lost…

    A measure of where we are will be if at some point our prices increase, which I hope won’t happen because football should be affordable, then it would be a more like for like option.

    • That’s a good point, that our prices are way down on Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs. But that’s another major factor of The London Stadium, it has allowed far more supporters to actually attend matches at reduces prices, something that couldn’t have been offered at The Boleyn. At just over £300 for the cheapest season ticket, this must be the cheapest in London for the Premier League.

  6. Time to open a store in Kent then.

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