As you’ll know, Arsenal like to announce a ‘tickets sold’ figure and pretend it’s the actual attendance, rather than just telling us how many people have come through the turnstiles. This leads to some amusement when they announce 59,000-and-something even when it’s clear from looking around that one seat in every five is empty.
So here I present for you the actual attendances, as given by Arsenal to the Metropolitan Police, alongside the official ‘attendance’ announced at the match and reported thereafter. I’ve included all competitive fixtures from last season, 27 in total.
As you can see, the total of empty seats throughout the season, if we take these figures to be 100 per cent accurate, is just over 135,000, which means that there were on average exactly 5,000 seats sold for every match that weren’t used.
According to the Arsenal website the stadium capacity is 60,432, meaning the number of empty seats in total, whether paid for or not, was 152,089 for all competitive fixtures in 2015-16, or 5,633 per match, meaning that an average of 633 tickets per match went unsold.
Having said all that, there are a couple of dodgy-looking figures in the list of actual attendances. For a start on two occasions the actual figure is higher than the reported figure – including the ‘fact’ that exactly 60,000 were there to see Barcelona – while for the final game against Villa every single ticket holder apparently turned up. Every single one.
Then the consecutive home matches against Everton and Spurs had exactly the same actual attendance: 57,747. Strange enough, but the next match also had an attendance ending in 747, as did the Man Utd fixture two games before Everton. Has someone in the Arsenal box office got a Boeing Jumbo Jet fixation?
It’s also a mystery why the ‘tickets sold’ figure never gets right up to 60,432. The highest was 60,084 for Man Utd, leaving 348 tickets unsold. Someone explain that one to me.
All in all I think a pinch of salt is required for any of these figures, but clearly the actual attendance figures are more accurate as a view of how many turned up than the official figures announced by the club.
Arsenal played at home every day except Friday, with the solitary Thursday fixture – the rearranged match against West Brom – being the only one where fully a quarter of the stadium was empty. And Arsenal still won 2-0! Who says you need the crowd behind you to win? Then again it was West Brom. I’d probably have beaten them myself.
If you can glean any other insights from all this, let me know in the comments or on twitter: @AngryOfN5
Also if you check my maths and find I’m wrong, tell me before anyone else notices.
PS: Buy my book.