In total, Malaga managed to sell 23,000 season tickets this season, including winter purchases, and yet the average attendance at the ground was a mere 22,107 spectators over the course of the campaign.
Something here, evidentally, doesn’t quite add up though it’s a phenomenon occurring across a number of football clubs in Spain and one that requires a solution.
Because of the nature of the issues at play, they cannot be solved by pricing alone. Reducing ticket prices, or even just freezing them, cannot make fixtures on an individual basis more attractive given the subjective variables at play: the level of satisfaction with the level of play, results or even management. Lowering prices also has an effect on the salary cap and therefore how ambitious a team can afford to be - all factors worth taking into account from a management viewpoint.
LaLiga has recently released its official attendance figures for the top-flight teams and it makes interesting reading. The results are a far cry from those of England and Germany which both enjoy near-full stadia on a weekly basis.
In the Primera División, attendances fell by 0.9 per cent (to 10,527,264) this campaign compared with 2015/16, though this variation was to be expected with the size of the clubs promoted this year.
One of the new sides, Leganés, debutants in the top flight, had the highest average occupation of any side (88.4 per cent), though their stadium can only hold 10,922 people.
Tenth in the rankings
For Malaga, the figures make for disappointing reading, with La Rosaleda, on average, less than three quarters full. Reaching an occupancy level of just 73.6 per cent, in the year they celebrated a decade in the top flight, this was an unprecedented campaign in the history of the club.
It came tenth in the overall rankings, despite freezing (and in some cases lowering) season ticket prices and offering a wide range of promotions including the possibility of paying in installments or by direct debit, and reductions for those who had been loyal to the club in the past decade.
However, the problem for most fans lies with La Liga’s scheduling. With a number of possible kickoff times from Friday through to Monday - mostly to target Asian TV audiences - it is almost impossible to predict when any given fixture will actually take place. Quite often the kickoff time is only announced with a couple of weeks’ notice, making planning almost impossible for fans.
What’s more, Malaga found themselves more often than not pencilled in for the late evening kickoffs (they didn’t once play at midday), complicating travel arrangements for fans travelling from far-flung towns within the province, as well as those with work commitments.
Three ‘full houses’
The club hung up the ‘tickets sold out’ on three occasions (against Betis, Barcelona and Real Madrid), but they didn’t register officially as full houses with a number of members unable to attend.
The largest crowd was for the 2-0 win against Barcelona, with 28.314 people in attendance, followed by Real Madrid (27,855) and Atlético (26,912).
Malaga’s season was far from typical with the majority of the ‘big boys’ coming to La Rosaleda in the second half of the season, which never saw attendances fall below 20,000. In the first half, though, numbers were low, none more so than the 4-3 against Deportivo, when only 12,679 were in attendance, mostly down to the heavy rain and the 1pm kickoff time.
While the figures have been poor, other clubs have done much worse. Espanyol could only manage to fill 49.6 per cent of the RCDE Stadium, while Celta, despite reaching the Europa League semifinals, averaged home gates of 58.1 per cent.