Why are Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough crowds so low, at a time of success

Most clubs are having there largest crowds since the 1950’s when Wednesday averaged 42K in the 2nd division, but Wednesdays crowds have been very disappointing.   Wednesday are now getting lower crowds than two years ago when at the bottom of the Championship and back in the third division under Sturrock, when they averaged 22K in the bottom half of that division.

Olive grove

Olive grove

Sheffield is the 3rd Largest city in the UK, after Birmingham and London.   Leeds isn’t a larger city than Sheffield, Leeds city is only about 500K, versus Sheffield’s 560K.  The figure quoted for Leeds is the fictitious metropolitan borough created back in the 1970’s by Edward Heath.

You can see Wednesday’s average per season here http://www.european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm and these crowds agree with my book on 100 years of Hillsborough.

I myself was a die hard Wednesday support, watching Wednesday matches back from the late 1960’s until the Play off final at Cardiff.  You could see the top of the Spion Kop from my Grandparents yard, which was the first row of terrace houses across the bridge on Penistone rd, so I have very strong roots with the club.  So before plastic supporters start telling me I don’t know what I am talking about, I am not interested in what you think.

I will give you my reasons for Wednesday’s low crowds at a time of success and record crowds for other clubs like: Derby, Leicester, Middlesborough etc.  It’s a combination of factors.

Cost

For me this is the bottom line.  When I watched Wednesday in the 1980’s, it was costing me a hours apprentice wage if I had been paying the adult admission charge.   It cost about the same to go to the cinema as a football match, the peak cost for the Cineworld at Broughton Lane is £10.   Now somebody on a minimum wage would have to work 6 hours to go to the average priced Wednesday matches.   I certainly don’t think that going to watch a football match should cost me more than my weekly food bill of £30.   Just because the club charge £20 for a few matches, do you think supporters will come running back to Hillsborough, if they are priced out of 50% of the other matches.   A fair price for a match would be £15 for standing and £20 for sitting in the main stand.

It is strange that supporters of other clubs are willing to pay the higher price for football than Sheffield supporters, but then again I don’t see the average Sheffielder being stupid as we were born craftsmen.  Perhaps many Sheffield Wednesday supporters got out of the habit due to the lack of success and aren’t happy to jump back on because prices have increased so much.

Standing and Atmosphere.

I can remember being banned from the KOP and Leppings Lane in the 1980’s after the Oldham riot for three matches.   I hated every minute of having to sit in the main stand, the atmosphere was totally boring and I felt restricted sitting in the same seat for a match.  Supporters under 25 haven’t a clue what it was like to stand at Hillsborough, I have been on the KOP with 22K and the crowd at the last match was less than that.   Standing allowed more flexibility from match to match when you went with different people, the atmosphere was electric and it made football more affordable.   Football wasn’t just about the match, it was a social event and mingling with different people during a game was far more social than it is today.

Foreign ownership and players.

I am not happy with any of out clubs being owned by foreign business men.  As far as I am concerned it should be owned by local businessmen or a fans trust.   As for foreign players I am happy to see the calibre of Di Canio, Johnny Harkes and Roland Nilsson.  However I believe that non British players should be limited to 2 players on the pitch at any one time and there should be a lot more  local players from the area developed through the academy.   Sheffield city region has a population of 2 million, some international football countries aren’t that big.

Ground development.

Hillsborough is very little changed since the disaster.   The only real change has been the development of the South Stand.  Grounds like Anfield and Old Trafford were very much second best to Hillsborough, prior to the disaster.  I do think Hillsborough needs massive re development and think it would be better to move to a more central Sheffield location in the East end with more development land for the future.  Clubs who have moved to more purpose built grounds have seen massive increases in their support and it is possible to keep character if the right architect is used, not that any of the modern grounds have achieved that yet.

Players wages.

In the 50’s players were probably paid double the working man’s average wage and lived in the same communities as the supporters, not in mansions in the countryside.  Its totally obscene that a player can be paid more a week, than the Prime minster of the country gets in a year.   Players will bankrupt the game, unless the total wage bill is reduced to 30% of turnover, 60% is way too high.

FIFA.

The whole establishment running the game are corrupt, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are the tip of the iceberg, how can anybody take football seriously.   If football is to have any credibility the World Cup has to be take off Qatar.

SKY.

Killed the game I loved.   Clubs don’t need this organisation, they can stream their own games over the internet and go back to Saturday afternoon kick off’s.   12-30pm for a Saturday match against Leeds United, will kill the atmosphere and spoil the match for most.

Hillsborough disaster.

Hillsborough

Hillsborough

I will leave my comments until after the final verdict, but it certainly won’t agree with the Liverpool public.

Other things to do.

There is an awful lot more to do in Sheffield now, than there was back in the 80’s, so football has a lot more competition.

Anyway I have got that off my chest, but I doubt anybody at Sheffield Wednesday football club or football in general will be listening to me.

I get the feeling football will learn a hard lesson from its mistakes, when the crash eventually happens in England, like it did in Italy.  At some stage the USA will probably take football off us and all the best players in the world will go there.

All the best

Tim

 

 

 

 

 

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