Has the West Midlands got turned off the Premiership?
The current campaign has seen attendances fall away at all four West Midlands Premiership grounds. In the latest issue of When Saturday Comes, Adam Bate asks why are the fans staying away from West Midlands football?
He notes that Villa's home games against both Everton and Bolton saw numbers down well over 3,000 on the corresponding fixtures last year. Birmingham City's gates have also fallen with 1,800 fewer fans at the match with Blackburn Rovers. Wolves have failed to sell out for their first few matches too and they have plans to increase capacity by 8,000 seats.
Price could be a factor. At Molineux the cheapest price of an adult season ticket for new supporters is £522. This makes Wolves the sixth most expensive club in the country at which to become a new season ticket holder. It should be pointed out that Wolves have offered more generous 'Early Bird' offers to existing supporters.
At the Hawthorns the cheapest season ticket is £399 but that still places them among the ten most expensive in the Barclays Premier League. A walk up ticket will cost you at least £40 for the top category games that account for 12 of the 19 league fixtures.
The West Midlands is still highly dependent on manufacturing and unemployment rates remain above the national average. A more significant factor than unemployment may be that many workers experienced short-term working during the height of the recession and are still recovering financially from that.
Ultimately the Premiership model is built on television revenue with overseas revenue being an important component. However, gate money still makes a significant contribution to overall revenues.