While Middlesbrough’s defense was as porous tonight as their security (two fans ran across the field in fancy dress costumes during the second half), the match at Riverside Stadium revealed another disturbing fact: All those empty seats.
We broached the topic last week after Boro’s home match against Chelsea. But in that match and others, the commentators have dismissed the low crowds as being a result of people still on holiday. Although the holiday claims may sound plausible, I don’t believe them for a second.
While not scientific, I reviewed Boro’s home attendances for the beginning of last season and compared them to now. Here’s what I discovered:
- When Boro lost 3-0 at home against Charlton on August 28, 2005, the attendance was 26,206. Tonight’s attendance was 24,834. The capacity of Riverside Stadium is 35,100. Boro’s attendance for the Chelsea match last week was 29,198.
So attendances are down for Boro and there are more empty seats than last year. But the issue is not just at Middlesbrough. Throughout the Premiership, fans are voting with their feet regarding the high priced tickets for matches.
While the prices are high for Middlesbrough fans ($45 to $60), how does that compare with a ticket to a NFL game? To go see the Miami Dolphins game against Buffalo Bills in September, tickets run anywhere from $39 to $250 (with $39 being in the nosebleed section, something Boro fans don’t have to worry about). Of course, there are far fewer NFL matches during a season, but the comparison is interesting nonetheless.