Football fans have little staying power

May 3, 2012

Having decided long before Swindon Town FC were crowned champions (of the lowest flight of the English football league, but champions all the same) to become a season ticket holder for the first time, I was interested to read this piece in the FT last week, which suggests I will probably be in a minority if I’m still a seasoned fan in a few years time.

Writer Simon Kuper and his colleague, a sports economist, studied more than sixty years of attendance data and found that most aren’t the diehard matchgoing tribalists that many aspire and/or pretend to be (cf. my friend and footballing arch-enemy Stef).

Moving town, having kids, being too busy: all these and more conspire against ‘sticking with’. The only people who tend to keep their seats are, in Kuper’s words, ‘older people, with less complicated lives’. One glance around the stands at the County Ground certainly confirms the staying power of the old, although I couldn’t possibly comment on how complicated the outlooks of my pensioned brethren might be.

I leave you with this: the most civilised pitch invasion I’ve witnessed, wherein thousands of fans ran onto the pitch at the end of the match, and then (as here) ran off again. OAPs were, as far as I could see, absent.


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