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.
But 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.