Writer: J P Fear
Date:Tuesday August 29 2006
How big can we get?
I will be watching Aston Villa's attendances with interest over the coming season, I've no doubt they will increase and we may even see a few full-houses. But I was disappointed with the number that went to see the Newcastle game.
I don't think the Bank Holiday and train cancellations really had much to do with it. It got me thinking: just how big can the support for Villa become?
For me it boils down to statistics.
Birmingham is easily the second largest city in Britain with a population of nearly one million, and the West Midlands 2.3 million. Yet its biggest football team struggles to get 40000 through the turnstiles. This is even more remarkable if one considers that we are currently the only Premiership club for a hundred miles in any direction.
Glasgow, population less than 630,000, can service two huge teams with 50,000 fans. Against Reading Villa pulled in 37,000, respectable enough for a mid-week game, yet Manchester City, without having a great new manager to hail, and playing equally unglamorous opposition, also had over 37,000 that same evening. Man City are an interesting case since they are hugely supported, better than Villa I suspect (though I haven't done research on that) despite having one of the biggest football teams on the planet as neighbours and despite having quite a number of Premiership clubs within spitting distance of them. The population of Manchester is only 437,000, although Greater Manchester is comparable to the West Midlands it has Bolton, Blackburn and Championship clubs to divide that area. Newcastle is has a population of a mere 250,000 but can rely on 50,000 fervent supporters packing St James's Park.
What I am saying is that considering Villa's history, our population pool, our accessible geographical position, our pathetic rival clubs, the support of Aston Villa is lamentably poor. Even having Doug as chairman for so long doesn't quite explain it. On Tyneside they famously say that 30000 fans would turn out just to watch Shearer lace up his boots during training. Perhaps we are particularly demanding, perhaps we are fickle or perhaps we just aren't football crazy in the West Midlands like they are in the North East or North West, which is no bad thing after-all. There are other things in life. But with the transfer deadline a few days away, I just can't think of any at the moment.
Article by Saurat
Date:Tuesday August 29 2006
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