clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Much ado about nothing?

It seems to be the vogue topic of discussion at the moment - has football lost it? This is usually accompanied by various explanations saying how The Ashes have stolen football fans, or ticket prices are pricing people out of the game or whehter Premiership tactics have resulted in a more bland and sterile product.
Even the M.E.N. got in on the act today with a two-page special focusing on Wigan, Bolton, United and City.
So, are City facing a problem attracting fans this season? Three games into the season and we see that the club is down in two and up in one of the corresponding fixtures from last season. However, on closer analysis, Portsmouth only brought 1,000 fans with them and last seasons game against West Brom was on Boxing Day. The Bolton game, in which we were up this season, was a Monday night game last year so I don't think that at this stage too much can be read into the home attendance figures.
It is evident though, that it is far easier to get hold of tickets if you are not a regular supporter this season. Certainly, the first season at Eastlands, games were selling out well in advance wheras last season it seemed the initial first season excitement had worn off and some fans did not renew their season tickets or go to as many games. This season though, thanks to being on some sort of marketing mailing list, I have received the in the week leading up to home games flyers 'reminding' me that there is a game at the weekend and not to miss out on the action. All of this with a lovely personal message by our esteemed manager.
I think away games are a more of an indication of a dwindling support as these tend to be the games where fans will give it a miss due to the additional cost of travelling etc. I know the Birmingham game went on open sale but to be fair that was a Saturday TV game with an evening kick off. It will be one to monitor, but fans 'voting with their feet' is a definite last resort.
What is apparant though at City, is a growing concern over the atmosphere at the new stadium since the move from Maine Road. Funnily enough, a guy I know who is a (casual) United fan went to the Portsmouth game and sat in the Colin Bell Stand and commented how good the atmosphere was (in comparison to United).
But it is a concern, and in our third season it should have sorted itself out by now. I know several of the fanzine owners have been part of action groups and there are various other individuals who have held meetings with representatives of the club to address this (and other) issue. Stuart Pearce has also mentioned it a couple of times, whilst still acknowledging that it should be the players on the pitch who get the crowd going.
To me, the problem is that the new stadium (how long can it be called that by the way?), whilst being comfortable and aesthetically pleasing does not have the intensity that Maine Road produced and I can't see that it ever will.
To be fair though, since moving to the stadium, there hasn't been much to excite the fans on the pitch as we had a near-relegation battle and the dour end of Keegan's reign. Maybe if we take off a little under Pearce and get a succesful season going then half the battle will be won.
One thing that was worrying though was the comments from City spokesman Paul Tyrell: 'we have been examining ways of improving the atmosphere, and over the next few weeks we will be trying out other things'. Thankfully, I wasn't at the game Sunday to have to witness first-hand the piped in chanting that the club decided to play. Someone should have been heading down to the dole office Monday morning with P45 clasped in hand for that disastrous decision.
It might work in Mary D's with the accompanyment of several pints to rouse a pre-game crowd but not inside the ground.
Please stop.