ATTENDANCE figures released for Wales’ two top football leagues have revealed contrasting fortunes.
While the Dafabet Welsh Premier average attendance slumped by 5 per cent the attendance figures in the Huws Gray Alliance dramatically increased by 15 per cent.
The Welsh Premier’s average gate last season was 309, a 5.3 per cent decrease on the previous campaign and the lowest since 2013 while only two fixtures attracted a four figure attendance.
Both matches were played before the mid-season split with the top attendance of 1,168 marking the opening of Aberystwyth Town’s new 3G pitch in November.
The slump has been mitigated by nine early season games being played on neutral venues due to 3G pitches being installed at Aberystwyth, Bala Town and Cefn Druids.
However the figures also include massive decreases of more than 30 per cent at Llanudno and TNS while Welsh Cup winners Bala saw gates fall by 13 per cent.
In comparison only Connahs Quay Nomads reported a double figure increase with an extra 10 per cent watching the Deesiders this season.
However the early season ground developments have failed to mitigate the attendance decreases following the mid-season split.
Eight of the league’s 12 clubs reported decreases following the split with Aberystwyth Town, Bala Town, Bangor City, Cardiff Metropolitan, Llandudno, Newtown, Rhyl and TNS all reporting slumps.
However it seems many lost Welsh Premier fans are instead finding a new home in the Huws Gray Alliance.
The northern second tier reported 37, 597 spectators had watched Alliance fixtures last season, a huge increase of 15 per cent from the previous campaign.
Caernarfon Town’s average attendance was 357 with a league high of 1,247 for their match against Porthmadog who were one of four clubs to average more than 200 a game.
Attendances at relegated Buckley Town doubled to 199 while all but four clubs averaged three figure average attendances.
The figures will further fuel criticism of the current Welsh Premier format with dwindling attendances in both the championship and play-off highlighting supporter apathy over fixture repetition.
However the Welsh Premier will be boosted by the welcome return of Barry Town next season with the Glamorgan club one of the best supported in South Wales football.
See full story in the County Times