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Added August 9th, 2016 by Ian

Empty seats at Spanish soccer stadiums could lead to fines

For years, the Spanish La Liga allowed each individual Primera Division club to negotiate its own television broadcasting deal. This meant the top clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid would typically rake in all the big money while the rest of the league’s teams had to fight over the table scraps. However, that has changed now, as the league itself has a television deal which sees all teams sharing the benefits and revenues. This enables the smaller and less glamorous clubs to at least make some decent money as they ride the coattails of the rich franchises. The new way of negotiating broadcasting rights should give the smaller teams some money to spend on better players in the transfer windows.

But according to the Associated Press, the smaller teams will have some pressure put on them to make sure their stadiums are as full as possible for televised games. The Spanish league doesn’t want TV viewers to see empty stadiums every week as it makes the league look second rate and unprofessional. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona won’t have any problems since their home stadiums are typically jam packed for each match, but some of the lower teams struggle to attract supporters. The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, said he wants to see specific sections of each stadium filled with fans when the cameras pan across them.

Tebas added that clubs could be fined if they don’t adhere to the plan. This means most fans will need to be seated in the lower sections of the stadiums, which traditionally come with higher-priced tickets. Therefore, teams may have to move fans from the cheap seats in the upper heights of the venues down to the pricier locations in the lower areas. Of course, if the clubs sold lower-priced tickets for the best seats in the house there may not be as many empty seats to begin with. This means the fans may catch a break here as ticket prices could be slashed or their seats could be upgraded for free or at a minimal cost. Perhaps the clubs will even give tickets away for free.

Oddly, the seats which are shown by the cameras are the ones that need to be filled. The lower bowl seats behind the cameras could still be empty since they’re typically not shown on the broadcasts. Those teams with creative minds could resort to filling the seats with fake fans, such as cardboard replicas to make the stands look full. The league’s idea may be hard to implement, but it makes a bit of sense since empty stadiums definitely aren’t doing the league’s image any good. But based on the numbers, it’s not going to be easy to pull off.

Most new soccer stadiums hold at least 40,000 fans these days, but the average attendance at top-tier Spanish games hovers just under 29,000 per game. Germany leads the way when it comes to the top European leagues with an average attendance of 43,300. That doesn’t come as a surprise since the Bundesliga has some of the continent’s lowest ticket prices. The English Premier League is next at 36,461 per contest and it’s followed by the Italian Serie A at 22,162 and the French Ligue 1 at 20,896.

 
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