Cost of Empty Seats: How Much Championship Clubs Lose Every Matchday Due to Unsold Tickets

Updated: 696 Football

Just how much do championship clubs lose at every home game with empty seats in the stadia. Who are the worst culprits in the division losing the most money?

Cost of Empty Seats: How Much Championship Clubs Lose Every Matchday Due to Unsold Tickets
Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

A few months ago, OLBG took a look at how much every Premier League club is losing this season because of unsold tickets. The findings showed that Tottenham Hotspur were losing the most with an extra £165,000 of revenue going out of the window every time they play at their new state of the art new stadium. 

While any football club would baulk at losing such a high sum every home game, Premier League clubs' income is so high that even these kinds of losses incurred can easily be made up for by other revenue streams. The further down the footballing pyramid you venture though, the more important income from matchdays becomes.

That’s why we decided to conduct the same research on all Championship teams, who bring in far fewer finances from TV deals, sponsorship and various other means than clubs in England’s top tier. Here’s a full breakdown of how many clubs in these respective divisions are losing out on this season…

Cost of Empty Seats - Championship

Blackburn Rovers came out on top, with an average attendance this season (2021/22) of just 12,830 (which is well shy of Ewood Park’s 31,367 max capacity) meaning they average 18,537 empty seats per home game, accounting for a staggering £463,425 of lost revenue per match. 

The Lancashire based club have been on a negative slide for years after a very successful period in the 90s, and then maintaining their top-flight status throughout the 2000s. But since relegation in 2012/13, they have endured a single season in League One and then struggled to get anywhere near a return to the promised land.

Blackburn Top the Empty Seats League Table

Blackburn have the 6th largest capacity of Championship clubs and are leaving the most most money on the table through empty seats at home games

Given that it is perhaps no surprise that Rovers fans do not turn out in droves anymore, and with Ewood Park's capacity being 30,000 plus and only being around one-third full on an average matchday, the amount lost was always going to be huge.  

Similarly, Hull City have been on a slide over the last decade or so. Although they did bounce back from relegation to League One at the first time of asking last season, that was clearly not enough for fans to return in great numbers, reflected in the average attendance of 12,446 this season. With the MKM stadium holding 25,400 and the lowest ticket prices at £33, The Tigers lose out on £427,482 every time they play at home. 

Derby Country have the 3rd Highest Attendance

But that average attendance still leaves over 10,000 tickets unsold every home game which is not helping their current situation where another £350,000 per home game could come in handy

Cardiff City (£394,173), Middlesbrough (£384,859) and financially troubled Derby County (£357,456) round out the top five on our list. All have the three biggest stadium capacities in the league (north of 33,000) but all are missing around one-third of fans each home game, meaning they lose a considerable amount of money every matchday. 

At the other end of the table, Luton Town, who are defying expectations this term, lose out on the least per matchday with just over £10,000 per game. Average attendances at Kenilworth road this year have been 9,487, which is on 509 unsold tickets on average. Although it is the lowest capacity stadium in the division, and so they take home less than most. 

Luton are the Stadium Filling Champions

The Hatters might have the smallest ground by capacity in the division but with 95% of all tickets sold for home games, they are leaving the least potential ticket sales revenue uncollected

In fact, the only club banking less, Bournemouth, places just above them on the list losing out on £30,464 thanks to 1,904 empty seats. The Cherries max capacity is only 11,364 and the lowest available ticket costs just £16, which is the second-lowest in the Championship.

League leaders Fulham completed the bottom three in terms of revenue lost, with 1,839 empty seats at Craven Cottage costing the London Club just under £37,000 per game. When they inevitably achieve promotion back to the Premier League this season, you would expect the ground to be maxed out and the rather modest ticket prices of £20 to go up, which may eradicate matchday losses altogether.  

Championship Clubs Loses Infographic

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