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Saints Soldier On

By BrianC
June 27 2005

By their own high standards of recent years this has been a truly awful season on field for Northampton Saints. In the relegation zone for much of it they escaped the drop by the skin of their teeth on the last day of the season. Saints Soldier On

Northampton Saints - 2004/5 Season

15-Apr-05 ZP Northampton vs Newcastle 23 - 22 Franklin's Gardens 12027
26-Mar-05 ZP Northampton vs Harlequins 22 - 20 Franklin's Gardens 12064
26-Feb-05 ZP Northampton vs Leicester 26 - 11 Franklin's Gardens 12084
5-Feb-05 ZP Northampton vs Saracens 20 - 21 Franklin's Gardens 12020
1-Jan-05 ZP Northampton vs Leeds Tykes 18 - 9 Franklin's Gardens 12001
20-Nov-04 ZP Northampton vs Worcester 6 - 17 Franklin's Gardens 11208
13-Nov-04 ZP Northampton vs London Irish 20 - 21 Franklin's Gardens 11749
16-Oct-04 ZP Northampton vs Sale Sharks 6 - 23 Franklin's Gardens 11365
2-Oct-04 ZP Northampton vs Wasps 9 - 10 Franklin's Gardens 12036
18-Sep-04 ZP Northampton vs Gloucester 12 - 18 Franklin's Gardens 12093
4-Sep-04 ZP Northampton vs Bath 29 - 14 Franklin's Gardens 12027
Season Average 11879

Saints suffered their worst ever run of losses in the professional era in the Autumn. This led them to sack their coach Alan Solomons. Indeed they were still in some dissarray after his departure. Things only perked up in the last quarter of the season. In the end they finished 11th with 39 points. There will be no Heineken Cup rugby for the Saints supporters to enjoy next season.

Despite the torrid time on field Saints crowds for 04/05 averaged 11879, an increase of 5.4% over the previous one. The increase would without question have been greater were it not for ground size constraints. Seven out of their eleven home games were played in front of capacity crowds.

There are major development plans afoot for Northampton's home, Franklins Gardens. Next season should see the ground capacity increased to around 16k, it is currently just over 12k. Even with this increase, given the latent demand for tickets, it is likely that we will see a number of full houses next season.

Last year when I produced figures with a loading of 15 % for those clubs which counted exact numbers through the gate I excluded Northampton from the list of those clubs. This caused some protest from Saints supporters who were adamant that the numbers published were precise. I have to say I remain very suspicious of the published figures. When Harlequins, who certainly used to count exact figures, have a full house the published figures vary by many hundreds. In the case of Saints, with larger crowds, the variance can be counted in tens. Are Quins supporters really that more fickle than Saints ones?

Perhaps more so than any other club Northampton will feel the impact of the stadium move up the motorway at Leicester, whenever it comes. Leaving aside the long standing rivalry between the two teams and the ambitious plans of the Saints to catch up with and even overtake their Midlands rivals in off field terms, there is the issue of catchment area. A neutral rugby supporter, shall we say based in Coventry, wanting to watch a ZP game at present would probably go to Northampton, as much as anything tickets there are easier to secure. The same supporter next season, seeing tickets readily available for Leicester games, perhaps even with the incentive of a promotional offer in a local paper would probably head North.

Saints have done a remarkable job over the past decade. Not only have they recovered from relegation, they have grown into one of the countries major rugby clubs. With the planned expansion of Franklin's Gardens the place of The Saints as one of the major clubs in England seems assured. They just don't need to go through any more seasons like the last one.

Season Average Att. Position
(Out of)
Final ZP
97-98 6515 5th(10) 8th(12)
98-99 7175 4th(10) 2nd(14) 10.1%
99-00 7282 2nd(10) 5th(12) 1.5%
00-01 7929 3rd(11) 4th(12) 8.9%
01-02 9300 2nd(11) 5th(12) 17.3%
02-03 10606 2nd(11) 3rd(12) 14.0%
03-04 11272 2nd(12) 3rd(12) 6.3%
04-05 11879 3rd(12) 11th(12) 5.4%
Variation '97 - '05 82% 3rd(12)
Crowd Growth Absolute 5365 2nd(12)
Average Growth 9.1% 3rd(12)

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