The FA Cup with Budweiser
Fourth Round Proper
25-27 January 2013
Winning clubs receive £90,000 from The FA's Prize Fund
Click here for fixtures
By David Barber
This season’s Fourth Round of The FA Cup with Budweiser is being played at the weekend and once again the match attendances will be under scrutiny. How will they compare to previous seasons?
The Third Round, including replays, had more than 645,000 spectators – the best for five years – but the average number of fans per match was lower than in recent seasons. This average can fluctuate, depending on which teams have been handed home draws.
In that Third Round, for example, the home teams included Aldershot, Crawley, Luton, Macclesfield, Oxford and Southend. They help the magic but they don’t help the crowds!
So we look to Round Four…
The average attendance was 38,160 in 1950, 36,861 in 1955, 35,721 in 1960 and 34,023 in 1965. We are never going to see that kind of figure again, because the capacities are so much lower now. Tottenham Hotspur’s famous 13-2 thrashing of Crewe Alexandra in 1960 had a crowd of 64,365; the current limit at White Hart Lane is 36,000.
In the same year 31,975 saw Blackpool play Blackburn Rovers at Bloomfield Road, where the capacity is now around 17,000.
The Fourth Round average had dropped to 27,140 by 1970, despite Football League attendances shooting up in the seasons following England’s World Cup success. It was 29,383 in 1975, 25,386 in 1980 and had plummeted to 17,820 by 1985 – the year of Luton, Bradford and Heysel.
Then there was an upward trend, with 19,642 in 1990, 20,885 in 1995, 20,821 in 2000 and 23,873 in 2005.
But by 2010 it was back to a disappointing 17,654. Why was it so low? Manchester United and Liverpool had already been knocked out in the Third Round and there were away draws for Arsenal, Newcastle, Manchester City, Sunderland and Chelsea.
Accrington Stanley only managed 3,712 and there were less than 10,000 at Notts County, Scunthorpe and Wigan.
Things have looked up since then, with an average of 20,553 in 2011 and 20,591 last year. It will be packed at Old Trafford at the weekend – that goes without saying – but how many more thousands will be ‘Up for The Cup’?
On the day of the Third Round Sir Alex Ferguson was quoted: “The FA Cup is still the best domestic cup in the world”. Arsene Wenger said: “The FA Cup is something special because it is something exciting”.
Come and join the party!