Wednesday Night & the Gates Are Low: Crunching Port’s Attendance Figures

The atmosphere at the PAT Stadium is widely considered to be amongst the best the league has to offer. Despite there being six clubs with greater average attendances than Port, the unique and vibrant crowd in Khlongtoey still remains a highlight of the Thai League.

While players such as Dragan Boskovic and Nurul Sriyankem have made headlines for their efforts in improving Port’s performances on the pitch, those in the stands also have a seemingly huge impact on Port’s fortunes.

As such, after having done a feature on the Thai League’s average attendances for the Chonburi FC Club website (available here courtesy of shameless self-promotion), I thought it would be useful exercise to run the numbers for Port and take a look at the trends that have occurred over the past few years.

As we can see, this graph has the same aesthetically pleasing curve which can often be found on Pakorn corners or Suarez free kicks – save of course for that slightly bothersome 2016 relegation. Note, however, that Port’s attendance figures for their 2013 season in the second division are unavailable, but judging by the general trend, it did little to reduce the growth the club had already been facing.

What may come as a slight surprise is the fact that average attendances have not improved as a result of this season’s high investment – but that is not necessarily a negative thing. Unlikely Chiang Rai United, who pulled a similar stunt last season to attract fans of the local area, Port had arguably already “maximized” the support of the Klongtoey faithful even before this season’s spending spree. As such, the intention of Madame Pang’s shopping is to be successful and win trophies – something that it appears to be succeeding in – and attendance figures should in no way dampen that achievement.

However, the season-by-season attendance graphs are slightly more telling.

Port FC Average Attendances 2017

A random table to show how I had to painstakingly extract and compile information

Orange = Saturday, Green = Sunday, Pink = Midweek. Match number refers only to home matches

Looking over Port’s 2017 attendances, it appears that there is little difference in attendance between Saturday and Sunday games, but hosting games in midweek is clearly detrimental to the strength of the crowd. Attendances appear to go up and down every other game, and sometimes quite drastically, with noticeable but predictable peaks against the bigger sides – Buriram United, Bangkok United and Chiang Rai.

 

However, Port’s 2018 season looks slightly different than one would expect:

 

Orange = Saturday, Green = Sunday, Pink = Midweek. Match number refers only to home matches

Firstly comes the expected peak against Muangthong United, with the PAT Stadium being packed to capacity whenever the (*insert expletive here*) come to town. Additionally, the up-down pattern seems to have continued and the mean average attendance has improved as there have been no games with a crowd smaller than 2,000 this season.

However, where the surprise comes when looking at the specific teams in question. The worst attended league game this season came against Chiang Rai, which comes as a surprise both because the game was played on a Saturday and because Chiang Rai boast one of the strongest lineups in the division (it followed Port’s worst performance of the season at Chainat so there’s your answer – Ed). Additionally, a Saturday clash against Bangkok United was attended by fewer people than a Sunday meeting with Ubon, which is an absolute travesty purely from an entertainment standpoint.

Ignoring the more extreme peaks and troughs, it appears that the attendances may be on a downward spiral, which is something that should not be the case given how well the side have been doing this season.

While this may be slightly concerning, it is in no way atypical for the Thai League. Early season enthusiasm tends to fade out over the course of the season, and attendances are highly depending on current form – much more so than in many other countries. These figures are in no way an indictment of Port FC or their loyal fanbase – rather, they are indicative of systemic problems that are seen across the league.

As Port’s brand continues to grow and their style of play gets more refined, good things could come of the side in the future. But, as it appears now, that improvement must come alongside league-wide changes in order for the club to reach its full potential.

Header image courtesy of John Parbury

Gian Chansrichawla

Gian Chansrichawla

Gian is an aspiring football journalist living in Bangkok, Thailand. He currently works as the Southeast Asia editor at Football Tribe and has been a keen follower of Thai Football since 2015.

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