Tue. Apr 13th, 2021

It’s a good few months since I’ve been on the Tigers’ Unofficial Messageboard but I thought I’d take a look yesterday, given the interest surrounding the rumour currently doing the rounds over there that Mark Bakewell, the former Bath, Tonga and Suntory forwards’ coach, is on his way over to Welford Road to take up a similar role.

Bakewell is currently the forwards’ coach at Bristol but it seems he might be on the move. In itself, it’s of no great interest, other than where that might leave ex-Cov player and coach, Boris Stankovich. Temporarily out of work come the end of the season, perhaps?

I expect there might be plenty of interest from a number of clubs it does…


Good to see Cov getting a very positive mention on the Tigers’ Messageboard, too, on a separate thread.

I must admit I warmed to the person who had started it straight away as he (she) had entitled the post ‘The real Cov’ and included a link to the National One league table on the BBC website.

But where he really won me over was when he referred to Wasps not as the oft-used ‘cuckoos’ but as FaCov which is just pure genius really.

Whatever your feelings towards our neighbours (and I’m pretty ambivalent these days), you just have to admire the kind of mind that came up with that.

Playing at a football ground as Wasps do makes it work so well on two levels at least.

Whoever came up with that, take a bow…


A few comments both on here and on the Cov Messageboard of late have suggested that whilst Cov’s attendances are up, they’re not up by as much as might be hoped. Indeed, in some respects they could be deemed to be a little disappointing even, given the success the club is currently enjoying.

It’s not the opinion that I’ve been expressing on here this season, having written several times about how encouraged I’ve been to see gates on the up, and considerably so at that.

It’s always interesting to see how differently supporters perceive the same changes in rather different ways and before I responded to a couple of comments made on here earlier in the week, I decided to give it a little more thought rather than do my usual thing of rushing head-first into a response without giving the matter in question the due consideration it deserved.

Now I’ve had a think, it’s probably wise to start with the attendance data. Fortunately, I’ve been able to get information for all the seasons Cov has played at the BPA from a previous post.

However, I’ve added to it each season’s lows as well as highs, so it’s now possible to see the range of attendance in any one season, something that does help better understand the averages figures.

Hopefully, what I’ve included in here won’t unnecessarily duplicate what I’ve previously written, other than the data of course.

A reminder that during the seasons 04/05 – 09/10, Coventry Rugby Club was in the equivalent of the Championship and since 2010/11 the club has been an ever-present in National One, making it much easier to compare Coventry’s attendances in each of the two leagues.

So, since 2004, when Cov moved to the BPA from Coundon Road, attendances at the BPA have been as follows, with season average figures in red, season highs and lows in blue:

Season  Av          High    Low

04/05      1688      (2100 – 956)
05/06      2126      (4612 – 1381)
06/07      1530      (1915 – 1241)
07/08      1366      (3100 – 873)
08/09      1397      (3638 – 838 )
09/10      1218      (2003 – 618) – Relegation to National One
10/11      834        (1541 – 432)
11/12      1051      (1643 – 745)
12/13      857        (1166 – 648)
13/14      1201      (1601 – 917)
14/15      1506      (2132 – 1025)
15/16      1152      (1435 – 851)
16/17      1263      (2712 – 939 )
17/18      1765      (2242 – 1445)


Some points worth considering:

  • After 8 home games this season, Coventry’s lowest gate is higher than any previous lowest gate since 2004 and is higher than all but four of the season overall averages for that same period;
  • Coventry’s current average gate is the second highest since 2004, with only the 2126 in 2005/06 beating it – and that was when we were in the Championship. That figure is also skewed by the highest attendance that year of 4612;
  • Four of the six seasons we were in the Championship and playing at the BPA saw lowest attendances well below the 1000 mark, falling to just 618 when we were relegated, again well below many of those since we’ve been in National One;
  • Even when we were in the Championship, we weren’t able to attract the level of average attendance we are currently enjoying, despite clubs such as Harlequins, Exeter, Northampton and Bristol bringing large numbers of away supporters to the BPA when they were in Tier 2 of national rugby;
  • Coventry’s lowest attendance was just 432 in 2010/11 – less than we would currently get at a Zoo Sports’ League fixture;
  • Other than in 2014/15, the year we had the 18 game unbeaten run and finished 3rd, Cov’s gates in National One have been in the 1000-1200 is range for the most part. The 2014/15 average was still over 250 less than this season’s;
  • The average gate this season is currently 703 more than any other team’s in our league and a figure that surpasses that of any other season we’ve been in National One, other than in 2011/12 when Jersey’s average attendance per game was 1005 more than Cov’s who had the second highest average that season;
  • Jersey’s average figure since they returned to the Championship in 2014/15 is around 1750, although last season it dropped to just 1050;
  • Attendances before Wasps (FaCov 🙂 ) arrived in town (Dec 2014) were considerably less for most seasons (2005/06 excepted) than our current average for this season

For me, the figures show that this season has seen a significant increase in attendances on any of the last 12 years. The increase  in averages attendances on last year alone is an impressive 40% and I would imagine the Board would have been more than happy to have accepted that as a projected figure 12 months ago.

By all accounts, season tickets are up on last season, too, and if I remember the figures correctly, by more than 40% as well.

Probably the most pleasing thing of all is that attendances over the three games have been over that 1700 mark. That suggests that there is the beginnings of a much larger ‘core’ group of supporters on which to build and if the less attractive fixtures can still pull in 1700 plus supporters, there are real grounds to be pleased.

Where there might be some disappointment is that there have only been 2 games where the gates have been above 2000 and the Moseley game, where we had high hopes of exceeding the 2712 at the game last year, ‘only’ attracted  2242.

Plymouth brought in 2012.

This is where perhaps we are missing out, if indeed we are, although just what the reasons are for the lower gates and how these can be addressed aren’t clear. Is there a lack of pre-match publicity as Rob suggests or is it that there is a level of attendance beyond which we just aren’t likely to exceed, no matter how much pre-match advertising takes place.

Even with Cov’s average gates as they are, we would still be the fourth best attended club in the Championship and with every likelihood that our numbers would increase if we were to be promoted, I think all-in-all it’s a pretty encouraging picture.

At least initially, anyway, as the average attendance over the years Cov was a Championship side was just 1332, whilst since we’ve been in National One it currently stands at 1203. Not a great difference between the two leagues, although split between two very different periods in the club’s recent history.

If Wasps’ move to Coventry has impacted negatively on the club in terms of attendances, then I really think it’s been a major one, especially as attendances since then show an improvement on the two or three seasons prior too Wasps’ arrival in 2014.

The biggest factor in determining the numbers of spectators seems to be the success of the club. I think it’s as obvious as that but I as I mentioned earlier, there is probably a level beyond which the club won’t improve.

I’m guessing here, but I think the 1800/1900 mark in National One is pretty much where that would be for Cov. All the historical data suggests that regular gates of over 2200 are unlikely whilst we are in this league even with a successful side, although that’s still above where we currently are, but not by much.

The remaining home games should see the average attendance figure increase, but other than the Darlington game, there aren’t any of the top clubs still to come to Cov. This might mean gates aren’t going to climb above 2500 mark unless a specific home win would ensure the league title, in which case it’s party party time.

The next big incremental climb in attendances will be when we reach the Championship, but the attendance figures above make it clear that if Cov struggle at the higher level, attendances won’t remain strong for long, as that average of just 1321 for the period we were in the Championship suggests. The whole entertainment package offered by Cov on a match day will become increasingly important in maintaining levels of attendance after that initial honeymoon period in the Championship is over, unless of course we find ourselves in the top half of the table and winning more games than we lose.

Despite Rob C’s pertinent comments regarding the pre-match advertising for the Old Albanian game:

On that note I drove past BPA midweek and looked to see what advertising was in place to promote the forthcoming game. I might have missed something but I could only see a small poster advertising the Coventry Bears game.
I believe we have a sponsorship deal with a sign-making company – surely we can put some sort of banner outside our own ground to attract the attention of passing drivers and pedestrians?


I’m not sure how much difference it would make – Coventry’s success has been well-publicised on radio and television in recent weeks and if gates are to improve it will be more as a result of the team consolidating its position as National One leaders than as a result of banners advertising games outside the ground. Two years ago and that definitely would have worked;where we are now, well maybe not.


I could be completely wrong and we’ll see home attendances shoot up over the next few weeks – and that would be just fantastic – and thinking about it, Cambridge might well bring a fair few and with the obvious links between the two clubs, maybe that could potentially be a 2000 plus crowd.

giphy66But I’m not convinced. Mine is just an alternative view, but with a fair few supporters voicing just a tinge of disappointment about the size of the crowds currently watching an all-conquering Cov, I think I might be very much in the minority over this one.








By Tim

22 thought on “Tigers’ Messageboard…an alternative to the cuckoos…attendances this season at the BPA”
  1. Hi Rhys, yep, definitely required but perhaps not as great a significance as they ere a few years back…?

  2. Can’t disagree with that Tim, but I know that when people are making a cup of tea at work, for example, they read notice boards, and a presence there can’t be a bad thing. I’m talk on top of, not instead of.

  3. Hi Mark – plenty to learn from Wasps, although at times it’s more show than substance but the younger Wasps’ supporters love it. I think the PR is definitely improving and the club has gone the extra mile to rebuild some of the bridges burned under previous administrations, but there’s still work to be done. If you look at the comments appearing here over the last couple of days, there’s a real desire to move things on…that momentum (which is nothing to do with the blog, it comes from the current success of the club) is something that the club could/should make use of. The club needs it’s own forum where these sorts of issues could be discussed …

  4. Wasps do have it right with the kids.No matter what we think of all they do,it is an investment in the future. They ensure families come along and increase the spend , as well as big fans of merchandise. I have repeatedly moaned/argued /cajoled over the years that we have not done enough in this area. Having kids under 16 free accompanied anywhere in the ground.Was a fantastic step but just never capitalised on. For some reason even the music played when tries scored suddenly stopped, shame as people had just started to enjoy the routine to accompany it. There remains many seats empty in the stand , whatever happened to goodwill gestures at the other end of the scale to the earlsdon village next to the ground or local charity groups in the area. Its about generating good P.R away from the pitch also, have to say COV blaze are excellent at doing that.

  5. Hi Iain, I totally agree with your concerns as to what might happen if it all goes belly up as far as results are concerned when we’re (hopefully) in the Championship. It’s one of those wait and see scenarios really. My belief is that we’re almost at our upper limit in National One as far as a season average is concerned – 1800-1900 tops. There will be odd games that improve upon that but otherwise I can’t see us attracting 2200 for teams in the bottom half of the league. The scenarios you suggest post National One are spot on…

  6. This is an excellent post, Tim, and thanks for taking time to research past seasons’ attendance figures, which are illuminating.

    At risk of seeming argumentative for its own sake (not to mention a glass-half-empty curmudgeon), here’s why I still feel attendances are disappointing this year, despite the figures you cite.

    The years 2004-10 in the Championship were ones of stagnation followed by crisis for Cov, not to mention neglect of the supporters by the owners. So the club would, I am sure, not want to emulate that period in terms of attendances (or indeed anything else) and would aim to exceed the c.1500 average attendance of Cov’s last stint in the second tier.

    But I fear it will be hard going to do that. As the Jersey example suggests, it may be easier to attract big crowds for a promotion bid from National 1 than to support the less exciting business of trying to hang on season after season in the Championship (whatever other reasons there may be for Jersey’s decline in attendances). So I feel that we need crowds to be above 2000 this season if they are not to drop back to 1500 or so next season (assuming promotion happens).

    The inspiring example I see is Bedford, who regularly attract crowds of well above 2,000 despite not making a serious bid to the Championship and having said they don’t aim for promotion even if they did win it. Coventry is a much bigger place than Bedford, with a greater pool of potential supporters. I hope that even allowing for the presence of Wasps it should be possible to attract similar crowds if/when Cov go up.

    But the level of crowds this season suggest that there is much more work to be done to achieve this. It would be interesting to know what Bedford are doing right.

  7. Absolutely no apology needed! With regards to pre-match activities, the best thing that the club could do is increase the drink areas and reduce the queues, then more supporters will meet at the club beforehand rather than elsewhere. Playing a recording of the previous away game is certainly a good call …there’s definitely a need to attract more youngsters to the games, but I’m not a great fan of the mini rugby beforehand other than the kids probably enjoy it, no-one other than the parents take an interest. Shame really. We’ve had plenty of crossbar challenges and the like but they certainly don’t pull the punters in as everyone else is either at the bar, in the loo or having natter with the neighbour. No real answers either but at least lots of people are talking…ps give-aways are a good idea, flags, badges etc, anything to promote the brand.

  8. Yes… a few losses and are numbers would drop by 200/300 fairly quickly. Cov has always done fickle quite well! My worry though isn’t this season, it’s how we keep the momentum going next season when we’ll probably lose more games than we win. That we’ll make for some tough watching…

  9. It was Quins – JW let me know from a previous post. Can’t imagine 4500 at the BPA now…we had that temporary stand on the far side that held a fair few…

  10. Interesting about Jersey, just assumed it was the result of financial troubles they’ve been having…by all accounts the rugby is rather less expansive that we’re used to but if we do go up I’m sure Cov will adapt whilst also playing some attacking rugby too.

  11. Agree to an extent but I don’t think it’s the right way to get the younger supporters involved. Will try and expand on that in tomorrow’s post! Including the unbeaten run on posters is a great idea and as a hashtag on tweets etc, anything to promote the club!

  12. I didn’t thin that could be bettered, but FauxCov wins it. Made me chuckle!

  13. Brilliant stat – and one that’s difficult to take in, really. I know we’ve been dominant but it’s only when you see the figures that you realise by how much. Feeling happier about Blackheath now. Agree totally about what we might have to expect as regards the Championship – still happy to give it a shot though!

  14. I should have mentioned that Peter. Lara Hunter has said that most of the corporate dining for the remainder of the season…great effort on the part of the club and as you say, a real money winner

  15. Facinating set of attendance figures Tim. Do you know which game drew the crowd of 4612 in 2005/06? As Cov only won10 games that season and lost 18, were never higher than 7th in the league and finished 10th, my guess would be the Harlequins game as they had been relegated the previous seaon. Prior to that I don’t think we had played them since 1995/96.

  16. One reason I have been given by Jersey folk for their slump in attendances is the lack of local players in the team and the style of rugby being dull.
    Coventry seem to have few Cov kids in and around team, something RW was keen to address and seems ahead of schedule.
    I think fans are best placed to attract new fans by telling people about good value for money and entertainment and a more intimate atmosphere and closer to the action than the Ricoh. Most people I have brought along in last three years have either repeated visits or become regulars. Fly the blue n white flag folks Our club Our city.

  17. Hi Tim, having worked at a sporting venue for 10+ years and over that time listened to the views of the great and good on how to get “bums on seats” in my experience no matter what deals you offer, especially cheap entrance, 2 for 1 etc (which normally cost the club revenue) I have found there is only 1 remedy – continued success on the pitch. Whilst enjoying success the club can build and increase their hardcore support, but the floating supporters are fickle, enjoying the success then slide away when the results go against. The holy grail is being able to keep some of them on board. I wish I knew the answer!

  18. I don’t have all the answers, let alone any. I always thought success would be its own reward.
    I well remember taking station in the Cowshed at Coundon Road with several thousand other long-suffering fans, watching defeat after defeat.
    The manner of defeat often gave us most pride, the Cov Dog as you so often mention.
    I was there when we sprang a surprise over much fancied Newcastle, the Bristol of their day. But mostly it was defeat. Narrow, unlucky, undeserved or played off the park.
    We’re winning, winning well and it’s more than a trifle disappointing that there aren’t more there witnessing the spectacle.
    However, your figures above suggest attendances are better on average, which is pleasing.
    More can be done.
    Whenever I return to Coventry I try to get to the BPA and arrange to meet friends there, even those not versed in the chicanery of rugby.
    It’s difficult, because you don’t want to increase the risk of damage to the pitch with ‘pre’ events, but I’ve often thought it’s difficult for those school rugby teams to come on just during the half term break.
    What about a monthly ‘competition’, involving diffierent schools, that starts ahead of the game and the half-time break is to decide the winner?
    Getting the enthusiasm of children on anything is a good way to getting parents onside. I learned that when I was education correspondent at the Cov Tel!
    I’m not a fan of the big razzamatazz we see increasingly at internationals, but maybe a bit of music pre-match?
    Food deals, beer deals…great ideas.
    I generally had a pint or two (or six!) with friends at the Town Wall before heading to the BPA. What would have made me get to the ground earlier?
    Maybe those players not in the matchday squad could be around to meet youngsters once a month?
    Maybe have a little stall near the entrance gates, with signed flyers of the squad? A giveaway, sure, but immersing younger fans in the rugby family? What youngster wouldn’t want to return? They go free, while their parents pay. There’s food and drink on top, to consider…possibly a win-win for the club, not just on game day but for the future, too?
    What about passing competitions? Kicking competitions? With players not involved on the day, so it wouldn’t be a distraction? Pass accurately five times in a row and win a badge?
    Just throwing out ideas. Some might work, some might not; some might be good, some might be awful. I’m not in the know, so could be barking up the wrong tree.
    It would also be worth looking to the Premiership for clues. I don’t know what goes on at Tigers, or the London cuckoo in our Midlands midst, for example, but there just might be pre-match entertainment for all that could work at BPA.
    Apologies for going on a lot.

  19. Hi Tim – good read as always, thank you. I do wonder though if we advertise our presence and our games enough. I’ve asked on several occasions for an A5 poster that I can stick on office notice boards so that people know when there is a home game they could attend. I think the ones we do see could have something on them that mentions the unbeaten run of 23(?) now.

    The more of us who can have access to those posters / flyers though, the better (imho).

  20. I’d be more inclined to use the term ‘FauxCov’ for Wasps. As the dictionary definition says – they are ‘not genuine, fake or false’.

  21. Good food for thought Tim, as ever. Where I normally sit, I overhear people talking, some who have been for the first time, either to Coventry or often first ever rugby match, and I am always pleasantly surprised to hear people talk about great atmosphere, how much they are enjoying, and, often, how likely they are to come again. I think the match day experience is getting better, National 1 Rugby is good and exciting level to watch (slight worry about Championship being maybe more attritional than open play we are used to). I think to coin a phrase from Field of Dreams – “build it and they will come”?
    While we are having a “stat fest”, one that I did notice – our points difference of 475 points is better than 2nd, 3rd and 4th place teams combined!

  22. Hi Tim, one other area that surely shows signs of improvement this year is the corporate dining seats sold. I know that a high percentage of those who attend this way seldom leave the comfort of their dining spaces, but their contribution and income generated , is more than welcome.

Any thoughts:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.