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Predictions and Projections 2005/6


By BrianC
May 10 2006

Last season I published an article which displayed mathematical projections of past growth five years forward. A number of people have since portrayed these as my 'predictions', something they were never intended to be. Predictions and Projections

In an attempt to address the issue, this time round I am going to attempt some predictions and I will put those alongside the projections. Some or all of my predictions will of course be wrong. What happens during the season both on and off field can have a significant effect on crowd numbers.

There have been a number of key considerations whilst putting the numbers together. These are:

04/05 season crowd numbers - The baseline from which to work
05/06 projection - Past average growth projected forward one year
Momentum - There is a general pattern whereby crowds that are growing continue to do so, likewise crowds that are falling.
Ground capacity - Whatever the projections or the potential, if a ground is already at capacity there is no room to grow.
Special circumstances - Things such as big showcase games, relegation battles and championship deciders. These can have effected the baseline figure. We know what the key factors were in 04/05, next season is anyone's guess.

Bath

04/05 gate - 10,448
05/06 projection - 11,646
Momentum - Strongly up
Ground capacity - 10,500
Special circumstances - None

Baths gate for next season is relatively easy to predict. They will have capacity crowds at all eleven of their home GP games. The only variable factor, as with 04/05 will be the number of usable temporary seats at the Rec.

Prediction for 05/06 - 10,450

Bristol

04/05 gate - n/a
05/06 projection - n/a
Momentum - n/a
Ground capacity - 12,000
Special circumstances - Promotion and survival.

Bristol averaged gates circa 5k when they were last in the premiership. Ground capacity is not an issue but survival in the top flight will be. If they do well they could surprise us all.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 7,000

Gloucester

04/05 gate - 11,909
05/06 projection - 13,815
Momentum - Up
Ground capacity - 12,500
Special circumstances - None

Last season six of Gloucester's home games were in front of capacity crowds. Next season we can expect the number of sell outs to be higher.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 12,250

Harlequins

04/05 gate - 8,812
05/06 projection - 10,212
Momentum - Strongly up
Ground capacity - 12,500
Special circumstances - Relegation, London Double Header

Relegation will no doubt hit Quins crowd numbers. That said with over 4000 season tickets sold, a figure that outshines a number of premiership clubs, their gates next season look set to be respectable.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 7,000

Leeds

04/05 gate - 5,572
05/06 projection - 6,219
Momentum - Static
Ground capacity - 21,000
Special circumstances - Boxing day 04/05, relegation battle 04/05, London Double Header.

Leeds otherwise lacklustre figures for 04/05 were signifcantly boosted by a crowd of 14.3k on Boxing day and their last two 'relegation battle' home games. They benefit from being a part of the LDH but otherwise will do well to hold on to the gains made in 04/05.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 5,500

Leicester

04/05 gate - 16,789
05/06 projection - 17,490
Momentum - Up
Ground capacity - 16,815
Special circumstances - None

The easiest to predict of the lot. Eleven capacity crowds.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 16,815

London Irish

04/05 gate - 10,533
05/06 projection - 12,302
Momentum - Static
Ground capacity - 24,000
Special circumstances - No Boxing Day 05/06, relegation battle 04/05, St. Patrick's Game, London Double Header.

LI's numbers look set to fall again next season. They have no home Boxing Day fixture, their other showcase game is again a week removed from Saint Patrick's weekend and against opposition who bring little travelling support. Without the presence of Quins the LDH is likely to see a reduced crowd.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 9,700

Newcastle

04/05 gate - 7,952
05/06 projection - 8,658
Momentum - Slightly Up
Ground capacity - 10,200
Special circumstances -
Jonny Wilkinson

Newcastle's numbers, whilst they grew in 04/05, were hit by long periods of injury to their star player and substantial price increases. If he is fit next season they should do ok.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 9,000

Northampton

04/05 gate - 11,879
05/06 projection - 12,957
Momentum - Up
Ground capacity - 13,500
Special circumstances -
Ground expansion

Saints managed to pretty well fill Franklins Gardens in 04/05. This despite the fact that they had a truly awful season on field. Given latent demand they should fill the extra capacity planned for next season.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 13,000

Sale

04/05 gate - 8,339
05/06 projection - 9,592
Momentum - Strongly Up
Ground capacity - 11,000
Special circumstances -
Jason Robinson

Sale are the fastest growing team of this decade. Every season since 00/01 they have recorded crowd growth well into double figures. Recently they have reported season ticket sales 70% up on last season. Until they hit capacity problems at Edgley Park they look set to continue this spectacular growth.

BrianC's prediction for 05/06 - 9,700

Saracens

04/05 gate - 7,592
05/06 projection - 7,454
Momentum - Static
Ground capacity - 22,100
Special circumstances - London Double Header, 04/05 games v Bath & Leicester.

Saracens slump last season was arrested largely thanks to a spectacular last home game crowd against Leicester and the boost given with the LDH. Even though things have recently got brighter on field I feel it will be a while before we see much larger crowds at VR.

Prediction for 05/06 - 7,500

Wasps

04/05 gate - 9,063
05/06 projection - 9,726
Momentum - Strongly Up
Ground capacity - 10,000
Special circumstances - London Double Header

Wasps recorded five capacity gates last season and look set to record even more next one

Prediction for 05/06 - 9,500

Worcester

04/05 gate - 8,150
05/06 projection - N/A
Momentum - Strongly Up
Ground capacity - 9,600
Special circumstances - None

Worcester surprised many people, not least themselves, with their strong showing both on and off field in 04/05. They are adding extra capacity to Sixways for next season. Given the number of full houses they had last season I expect this to be mostly swallowed up.

Prediction for 05/06 - 9,200

The Guinness Premiership - Inaugural Year

Overall I expect gates next season to be static or to perhaps even show a slight drop on 04/05. Growth can be confidently expected at Northampton and Worcester where the extra capacity planned for next season should be taken up by latent demand. On the counter side Bristol's gates are likely to be lower than those of Harlequins.

Due to ground size constraints, little or no growth is possible at Leicester, Bath, Gloucester or Wasps. Of the remaining five clubs only Sale appear to be on a strongly upward curve.

Nobody knows how the next season will pan out on the field. It is however unlikely that we will see a five way relegation battle to boost gates such as we did last season. The World Cup factor has now fully worked itself out. If there is a Lions factor, something I have my reservations about, that is more likely to be on the down side.

Having said that I expect gates to be static I should stress that I see this as only a minor correction in what is overall a pattern of healthy growth. As ground expansion allows we can expect the upward pattern to continue for some years yet.

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