The low attendance numbers are an issue for most domestic leagues in Australia, a pattern which is also found elsewhere around the world.  APL CEO Danny Townsend addressed the issue and his expectations this week.

A-League Attendance numbers

  • A-League matches are recording some of the lowest weekly averages in a decade.
  • APL CEO Danny Townsend blames people changing their habits.
  • The spectator issue also exists in other domestic leagues in Australia.¬†

More Australian football news can be found on FTBL.

So far for the A-League Men this season, only Round 1 has had an average attendance with five digits, 10,544 to be precise, with the next three rounds averaging 6599, 6534 and 6058 per round respectively.  The numbers are worrisome for some followers of the game.

By comparison, excluding last year due to the COVID-19 alterations at the start of the season, in last decade there were only three rounds total in the opening four rounds of play where the attendance dipped below 10000, with the lowest of those averages being 8,946 in Round 3 of 2018-19.

The highest attendance of the 2021-22 campaign has been the Sydney Derby in the first round with 23118 people in attendance.  The lowest attendance was Macarthur versus Wellington with 1188 spectators likewise in Round 1.

The A-League Women's averages are more difficult to calculate due to the amount of double headers that they have with the A-League Men.  With regards to standalone matches, the average attendance for Rounds 1 and 2 were 1034 and 1370 respectively.

The highest standalone women's match was the Brisbane Roar home match against Perth Glory which drew 2239 spectators with the lowest being Adelaide United versus Canberra United with 780, both taking place in Round 2.

There are a number of non COVID-19 related factors affecting attendances. Sydney FC men's stadium is currently being rebuilt with the club relocating to Jubilee Oval in the interim.  Western United have just started work on their new stadium and currently play at four venues.

Macarthur had to relocate their first home match due to issues with the pitch at Campbelltown stadium while Wellington Phoenix are playing all their home matches in New South Wales due to COVID-19 restrictions.  Adelaide United have their stadium attendance capped during renovations.

Australian Premier League CEO Danny Townsend addressed the current attendance issues on SEN 1170's Breakfast with Vossy radio show on Wednesday, December 15.  When Townsend was questioned about the low attendances in this season's A-League he replied:

"It is obviously something that we are all grappling with at the moment, it is pretty new" said Townsend referring to all sports.

"The one thing we have learned with COVID is it has sort off thrown the playbook out the window.  A lot of the effects of it we have yet to really see.  I think crowds is one of those.

"If it was an A-League specific problem right now then I would be more concerned.   When I talk to my colleagues at Big Bash and other sports everyone is saying the same thing.  

"It is habits.  People have changed their habits.

"Tentpole sporting activities and events will always drive audience because they are one offs, they are unique.

"But when you are talking about habitual type of commitments which being a member of a football club or being a fan of a BBL team is, you turn up every week and you support your team.

"Those things I think are going to take some time to reset.  

"We have got to just work towards delivering a good quality product and continue to put it in front of as many people as we can and have them engage more often.

"Gradually I think we will see the habits that people formed with their families come back to normal as time moves on."

The following are the attendances for the A-League Men's first four rounds of action.  Italic indicates a standalone women's match.

Round 1 from Friday, November 19 to Sunday November 21.

Average attendance 10544.

Date Time (AEDT) Match Stadium Attendance
Fri Nov 19 7:45pm Melbourne City versus Brisbane Roar AAMI Park 7213
Sat Nov 20 7:45pm Western Sydney Wanderers versus Sydney FC CommBank Stadium 23118
Sat Nov 20 7:45pm Western United versus Melbourne Victory GMHBA Stadium 8120
Sat Nov 20 10.05pm Perth Glory versus Adelaide United HBF Park 17198
Sun Nov 21 4:05pm Newcastle Jets versus Central Coast Mariners McDonald Jones 6424
Sun Nov 21* 6:45pm* Macarthur FC versus Wellington Phoenix* McDonald Jones* 1188*

*Last minute venue change due to failed pitch inspection at Campbelltown, Stadium.

Round 2 from Friday, November 26 to Sunday, November 28.  

Average attendance 6534.

Date Time (AEDT) Match Stadium Crowd
Fri Nov 26 7:45pm Western United versus Perth Glory AAMI Park 3013
Sat Nov 27 5:05pm Wellington Phoenix versus Central Coast Mariners WIN Stadium 1512
Sat Nov 27 7:45pm Adelaide United versus Melbourne City Coopers Stadium 7017
Sat Nov 27 7:45pm Sydney FC versus Macarthur FC Netstrata Jubilee 6632
Sun Nov 28 4:05pm Melbourne Victory versus Brisbane Roar AAMI Park 13026
Sun Nov 28 6:15pm Western Sydney Wanderers versus Newcastle Jets CommBank Stadium 8003

Round 3 (men), Round 1 (women) from Friday, December 3 to Sunday, December 5.  

Average for men's matches was 6599 , standalone women was 1034.

Date Time (AEDT) Match Stadium Crowd
Fri Dec 3* 7:45pm Wellington Phoenix versus Western Sydney Wanderers WIN Stadium 1948*
Fri Dec 3 7:45pm Canberra United versus Melbourne City Viking Park 1237
Sat Dec 4 5:05pm Brisbane Roar versus Adelaide United Moreton Daily Stadium 6549
Sat Dec 4 7:45pm Melbourne City versus Western United AAMI Park 7019
Sat Dec 4* 7:45pm Sydney FC versus Newcastle Jets* Netstrata Jubilee* 6943*
Sat Dec 4 10:05pm Perth Glory versus Brisbane Roar Macedonia Park 830
Sun Dec 5 4:05pm Macarthur FC versus Central Coast Mariners BlueBet Stadium 3014
Sun Dec 5* 6:45pm Melbourne Victory versus Perth Glory* AAMI Park* 14122*

*Denotes double header with women's match.

Round 4 (men), Round 2 (women) from Wednesday, December 8 to Sunday, December 12.  

Average for men's matches was 6059, standalone women was 1370.

Date Time (AEDT) Match Stadium Crowd
Wed Dec 8 7:45pm Melbourne City versus Perth Glory AAMI Park 4081
Fri Dec 10* 7:45pm Newcastle Jets versus Wellington Phoenix* McDonald Jones Stadium* 6332*
Fri Dec 10 7:45pm Brisbane Roar W versus Perth Glory W Perry Park 2239
Sat Dec 11 5:05pm Western United versus Brisbane Roar GMHBA Stadium 2845
Sat Dec 11 7:45pm Adelaide United versus Melbourne Victory Coopers Stadium 8145
Sat Dec 11* 7:45pm Western Sydney Wanderers versus Macarthur FC* CommBank Stadium* 8910*
Sun Dec 12 4:05pm Melbourne City W versus Melbourne Victory W AAMI Park 1092
Sun Dec 12 6:15pm Central Coast Mariners versus Sydney FC Central Coast Stadium 6037
Sun Dec 12 6:15pm Adelaide United versus Canberra United Marden Sports Complex 780

*Denotes double header with women's match.


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The full 2021 A-League Men's schedule can be found using this link.  The full A-League Women's schedule can be found using this link.