Friday, January 14, 2011

Newcastle's welcome return

When Newcastle United was relegated in the 2008/09 season, the English Premier League lost one of its best-supported teams and the only club other than Arsenal and Manchester United with a stadium that could accommodate more than 50,000 spectators.

While its average attendances (46,166 according to the Premier League website - are well below those of, say, 2005/06 (52,032), it should see big crowds for the games against Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Its return to the top flight for the 2010-11 season has helped arrest a slide in Premier League attendances over recent years. Total attendances fell from 13.7 million in 2007-08 to less than 13 million in 2009-10, the lowest level for four years. With attendances to date at some 7.3 million and 55.5% of games completed, this season is on course for 13.2 million.

The impact of on-field triumphs and tribulations is reflected in the stands. As a less competitive Liverpool has shed fans (average attendances are down 4.3% on the 2008-09 season), Champions League-chasing Manchester City has gained fans (up 7.8%).

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