Attendances 2019/20 – Let’s Get The Party Started

I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started
I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started

Get this party started on a Saturday night
Everybody is waiting for me to arrive
Sendin’ out the message to all of my friends
We’ll be looking flashy in my Mercedes Benz

Pink – Let’s Get The Party Started

With so much investment in Cov these past few months, both on and off the pitch, I imagine those with a financial interest in the club will be hoping for an increased turnover on matchdays this season to help finance current and future financial backings for the next phase of ground and team improvements.

And that means more bums on seats.

And on the terraces in years to come if the new Cowshed, as promised, comes to fruition when phases 2/3 of the build are completed.

It will be interesting to see if the local rugby-paying public respond positively to all the changes we’ve seen of late and gates increase still further on those of last season.

The jump up from National One to the Championship saw attendances not unsurprisingly increase, although the a total of  some 24% from an average of 1868 in 2017/18  to 2307 in 2018/19 (as detailed in Statbunker.com) was perhaps more than I’d expected.

An average of an extra 449 supporters through the turnstiles every home game in the Championship  was  most encouraging and shows just what the potential is at Coventry should we be pressing for promotion into the Premiership in a couple of seasons or so.

Promoted London Irish, a club that has been in and around the top flight for many years now, only managed 3770 last season. I’d fancy us to be in excess of that figure should we ever find ourselves fortunate enough to be in a genuine title race.

a1
Cov were the third best attended team in the Championship last season (Statbunker)

 

Folk can moan as much as they like about the arrival of Wasps to the city, but I don’t really see their presence as impacting negatively on our own gates. Certainly the figures don’t lend themselves to that view.

Since 2014 and the arrival of Wasps, Cov attendances have been pretty comparable to those of the club when we were in National Div 1 as was, better even  in some years. Rather, I’d tentatively suggest that they’ve held up pretty well even in the lower league against many of  the less glitzy teams we have entertained at the BPA in that period.

No offence to the likes of Cinderford, Wharfedale and Henley…

But the more games you win and the higher the league you’re in, the bigger the gates.

Since 2004, attendances at the BPA have been as follows, with season average figures in red, season highs in blue:

04/05      1688      (2100)
05/06      2126      (4612)
06/07      1530      (1915)
07/08      1366      (3100)
08/09      1397      (3638)
09/10      1218      (2003) – Relegation to National One
10/11        834      (1541)
11/12        1051      (1643)
12/13        857      (1166)
13/14        1201     (1601)
14/15        1506      (2132)
15/16        1152     (1435)
16/17        1263      (2712)

_____________________

17/18      1868     (3758) – Promotion to Championship

18/19     2307      (2943)

Interestingly, over the last 3 years Wasps attendances have fallen, from their average high since being at the Ricoh of 18096 in 16/17 to last season’s average of 16605 ( a decrease of over 8%). Plenty of possible explanations for the drop I guess, but may be Coventry’s success  under Rowland Winter’s directorship is one of them?

In other words our success has affected them more than theirs has us, maybe?

What is clear though is the more success Cov has on the pitch, the better the gates irrespective of Wasps’ presence in the city. Cov don’t need to fret about what the Premiership side are doing; if things at the BPA continue to progress as they are, gates will continue to rise.

And this season is ripe for attendances to improve further.

The continuing travails of Coventry City have clearly (and understandably) left a bitter taste in the mouths of some their supporters, so much so that they won’t be making the journey down to Small Heath  – although having worked there for 32 years, shopping and dining on the Coventry Road between Asda and Morrisons is always something worthy of consideration any Saturday afternoon :).

There must be disillusioned City fans who could be tempted into the BPA by some introductory offers? And the chances are that once inside, they’ll be happy to return, provided Cov get the whole Saturday afternoon experience spot on.

And with queues for the bars lessening towards the end of last season and lots of things going on around the ground, Cov are certainly listening to supporter feedback on that front. But there’s still more to do and I’m not altogether convinced that the club markets itself particularly effectively to those under 16 at the moment.

No area on the website for youngsters to get involved in is a biggy, surely? Something interactive or with opportunities for competitions and prizes perhaps, maybe the displaying of pictures or photos that youngsters have taken or stories/diary entries. , or questions answered by players, photo opps, etc etc – it’s not that difficult to come up with suggestions?

There must be one or two of the full-time professionals who are IT literate/savvy and who enjoy working with youngsters who could get involved in this side of the club’s activities as part of their community role?

Sorry, I’ve digressed.

giphy3Add to that the decent home record last season and a couple of exciting away wins  in April and the mood amongst supporters, and those who follow the club but who may be infrequent attendees, will be one of optimism for the coming season.

Kaching. Kaching.

Cov won 7 of their 11 home Championship games last year and came close in a couple of others, including the excellent performance  in the loss against Irish, so the prospect of watching a successful Cov side at home makes a season ticket all the better value (even more so for me as I qualify for the concession this year 🙂 )…

Cameron
A strong performance at home is always going to attract increasing numbers through the turnstiles. One more win would have put us equal in 3rd place in the Home League Table (Statbunker)

A new pitch, what looks like a stronger squad (on paper at least) and the promise of Cov returning to a more expansive free-running game, certainly on the synthetic surface at home, make rugby at the BPA this season even more appealing.

Cov’s intention to be more attacking and creative this season is something worth promoting over these next few weeks; the ‘promise’ of plenty tries and entertaining rugby is always an attractive one, especially to those who might not find rugby overly appealing otherwise.

But of course none of this guarantees numbers through the turnstiles. It will take plenty of work on the part of the club to promote all the positives if we are to see anything like another 24% increase in attendances this season – such a rise would see gates averaging well in excess of 2800.

It’s good to see that at the end of every news item produced by the club on its website during the close season, there’s details of how to purchase a season ticket. Such almost subliminal marketing might hopefully persuade some of the undecideds to make the leap of faith that buying a season ticket sometimes involves.

In one such news item earlier this month, newly appointed Chris Wearmouth, i/c Marketing Communications and Content, mentioned that 10% of season ticket sales were new purchases.

Which on the face of it seems encouraging.

But new purchases aren’t necessarily being made by supporters new to the club. (Good to see CW responding directly to comments/questions on the Messageboard btw.)

Many might well be supporters who are regular visitors wishing  to take advantage of the excellent early bird offers available. Any impact on the attendance figures in this case would be negligible. Even if total season ticket sales increase by 10%, the club are only looking at possibly 80 or 90 more.

No, key to increasing totals must be attracting Cov ‘virgins’, so-to-speak, or supporters who seldom attend but for whom the club now might appear a far more attractive sporting venue for the reasons highlighted above.

Hopefully, all the work that is being done behind the scenes with sponsors, especially corporate ones, will draw in potential supporters who might not have considered Cov otherwise. Last year some of the games were sold out in terms of the pre-game meals etc, so there is definitely the interest there.

Jon Sharp has worked really hard to develop the club’s hospitality/corporate side and with further initiatives planned to develop the ground further, this must be a real positive in the long run.

If I were to be at all critical, I would venture to suggest that in the run up to the home games there hasn’t always been a great deal of social media marketing evident – countdown to games, tweets every day during the two week gap, clips from previous fixtures between the two sides, competitions to forecast the score, name Cov’s first try scorer, guess the player competitions for the little ones, a chance to win the match ball, caption contests or clips from the management meetings and training.

In short, anything and everything to build up the interest.

Some weekends have almost come around unannounced in the past – or so it seems at times.

I read recently that the club is  hoping to become the best attended in the Championship this season. That will take some doing even without Newcastle’s presence in 2019/20 at the very least. Bedford’s gate was 280 more on average per game  than ours last season which is  catchable. But even with a drop in leagues, the Falcons are going to attract 3000 plus, surely (from 7282 last season)?

If that is the case, then becoming the best attended club in the league is a huge ask this season.

Unless of course we get a few early wins (including  against Trailfinders), in which case the Newcastle game in November could be epic, in terms of attendance if not in performance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sendin’ out the message to all of my friends
We’ll be looking flashy in my Mercedes Benz

I’d like to say I’ve got loads of friends who drive Mercs and whom I could invite over to the BPA in the hope that they’d splash the cash.

Sadly that is not the case…

My daughter drives a rather run-down  13 years old, fourth-hand,  BMW Series 1 though.

Hates rugby mind…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Tim

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