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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Mark McCadden

Report highlights need for investment in League of Ireland as attendances rise

The need for greater investment in League of Ireland facilities has been highlighted by a report on rising attendances across the country.

League director Mark Scanlon hailed the news that attendances rose dramatically last season compared to 2019, the last campaign that wasn’t affected by Covid restrictions.

Attendances in the Premier Division were up by 29 percent on three years earlier, with 110,660 more people going through the turnstiles than in 2019.

And the figure in the First Division rose by 135 percent - or an additional 102,205 fans.

Shamrock Rovers saw the biggest increase in real terms, with the average attendance rising from 3,384 in 2019 to 5,379 last season.

The three-in-a-row champions have sold more than 3,000 season tickets already and look set for another increase in 2023.

Shelbourne have experienced the biggest percentage increase - a whopping 172 percent - which is partly explained by the Reds’ First Division status in 2019.

Drogheda United weren’t far behind, with a growth of 169 percent, while attendances at St Patrick’s Athletic jumped by 81 percent last year, compared to 2019.

Scanlon, however, recognised that some clubs had experienced smaller rises due to facility restrictions.

“It has been brilliant to see the rise in attendances right across the League of Ireland in almost all clubs for both men’s and women’s leagues,” he said.

“With some clubs experiencing modest increases due to capacity restrictions, the figures also tell us a further need for increased investment in League of Ireland grounds as popularity booms to record levels.

“Although we are often pleased to see sold out signs go up, we know the serious potential we have for attracting new fans to the league and these figures further back that up.

“We must give immense credit to the clubs too who are going from strength to strength in engaging with their communities and bringing in bigger fanbases.

“We look forward to an even better 2023.”

Tallaght Stadium, which will see the completion of a fourth stand, plus redevelopment of the main stand in 2023, hosted the highest attendance last season.

A whopping 7,726 turned out to see Rovers lift the title at the end of their clash with Derry City at the end of October.

The capacity at the Dublin 24 arena will be increased to 10,000 when the additional work is finished.

The SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division (formerly the Women’s National League) also experienced growth last season, with a total of 23,907 attending matches.

The two FAI Cup finals - men’s and women’s - also experienced high attendances, with 32,412 turning up at the Aviva Stadium for Derry City’s 4-0 win over Shelbourne.

And a record 5,073 made the trip to Tallaght Stadium to watch Shels overcome Athlone Town to win the women’s league and FAI Cup double.

The total number of people who attended games in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division last season was 486,365, compared to 375,705 in 2019.

The figures in the First Division were 178,000 compared to 75,795 three years earlier.

As for average attendances, the figure per game across the Premier Division last season was 2,687, compared to 2,087 in 2019.

And it jumped from 561 in the First Division to 1,193 last season.


CLUB BY CLUB (2019 - 2022)


Bohemians: 2,876 - 3,209

Cobh Ramblers: 268 - 872

Cork City: 2,505 - 3,517

Derry City: 2,049 - 3,184

Drogheda United: 721 - 1,941

Finn Harps: 1,154 - 1,293

Galway United: 780 - 2,081

Shamrock Rovers: 3,384 - 5,379

Shelbourne: 1,071 - 2,913

Sligo Rovers: 1,995 - 2,166

St Patrick’s Athletic: 1,919 - 3,489

*Treaty United: 448 - 695

UCD: 739 - 953

Waterford: 1,496 - 1,705

Wexford: 245 - 445



Athlone Town: 382 - 307

Bray Wanderers: 773 - 482

Dundalk: 2,755 - 2,689

Longford Town: 610 - 500

*2019 figure belongs to Limerick FC


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