With J Hutcherson -- Let's take a look at the attendances from yesterday's games in England's Premier League. 32,126 at Goodison Park. 39,601 at Villa Park. 22,190 at Ewood Park. 41,293 at Stamford Bridge.
The listed capacities of those stadiums are 40,157, 42,783, 31,367, and 42,055.
Yes, it's Chelsea - the biggest club on this list - coming closest to playing to capacity. For those of you looking at the Aston Villa number, it's worth noting they were pushing game of day ticket offers on their website's splash page.
More often than not this season, a big draw requires the involvement of one of the big clubs. If you're Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, or Liverpool, you're doing fine home and away. Any combination of the other clubs, and things are complicated.It's not the huge collapse that draws Chicken Little style attention. At the same time, it's also not the strength-to-strength story the Premier League would prefer to be telling. Instead, it's the kind of mild disappointment in as one-off examples that look like a bigger problem when combined.
Remember, this is a League that seriously considered a 39th game played in foreign countries that would feature all 20 clubs, not just the obvious four. The cache of Premier League soccer will sell, but in the home markets it looks like it simply isn't selling enough.
There's no doubt that most clubs can provide very good reasons for why a gate didn't make expectations for particular games. Fair enough to nod along and adjust expectations. At a certain point, it became acceptable that the old days of ticket scarcity is no longer reality at a lot of stops on the Premier League schedule. Hey, the same is true of the National Football League.
However, the concern is that the Premier League adapts to a different American model. Or, at least it should be.
Professional baseball has become a league where a small group of teams draw regardless, and the rest look forward to playing them. It's not even subtle, with multiple teams adopting staggered pricing models to take full advantage of the glory clubs. It's simply no longer a season ticket sport in most markets.
Granted, baseball requires signing up to watch over 80 games in person. At the same time English clubs are asking for a commitment for more games than the most successful NFL teams play home and away over a season.
The quick result for the Premier League is that it's simply not that much different from the other major European leagues. Big club dominance with big club interest. The rest of the league fills out the schedule, strives for the top four, and basically makes up the numbers.
It's not what anybody really wants to hear. The Premier League is supposed to be exemplary. More teams filling their stadiums than any other country. A strong setup as you move down the pyramid. The general feeling that this is a place where their football takes precedent.
Maybe, but to really put the stress on that requires actually showing up.
Comments, questions, solutions to problems that have yet to present themselves. Please, tell me all about it.