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Are the Gunners shooting themselves and the league in the foot with their crowd figures?

April 11 – It has hard to know who Arsenal are trying to fool, but reporting an official crowd attendance of 59,374 when there were more like 45,000 in the stadium smacks of the vain kind of hope that Arsene Wenger is suddenly going to get it all right and they are going to win the Premier League.

What is interesting about the real number (whatever it is) attending the match against Southampton on Sunday, is what seems to be a general lack of interest from a fantastically monied supporter base who can afford some of the most expensive tickets in the country and then not be bothered to turn up. That assumes that the figure reported by the club was actually number of tickets sold (including season tickets) rather than the attendance figure.

It is an issue for the club and for the Premier League. When one of the top (read ‘big’) teams in the league and supposedly one of the best supported teams globally, can’t fill their stadium then the big numbers bandied around require questioning – whether they are the commercial numbers justifying sales or just the plain honesty around how many people went to the match.

Elsewhere the grounds around the Premier League were once again pretty much to capacity with just under 9,000 seats unfilled (excluding Arsenal’s bogus reporting).

Leicester tipped the weekly capacity ranking at 99.39% full. Nine clubs (including Arsenal) reported their stadiums were over 92% full.

Bottom of the table were West Brom at 86.7%. This week the club had an application for safe standing turned down at the Hawthorns. The scheme would have seen 3,600 seats in the Smethwick End converted to ‘rail seats’. The club had hoped to install them in time for next season saying that their proposal was based on safety concerns, because of persistent standing.

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