Another W-League season has been run and won with Sydney FC earning a record equalling third championship.
The attendance at Jubilee Stadium on Saturday also broke a record. The 6,127 strong crowd was the biggest ever for a standalone W-League game in the competition’s history.
Crowd chat is a favourite past time of Australian football so how did the 2018-19 W-League season fare?
Across the regular season and finals, 115,212 people attended the 57 matches that made up this season. That includes 18,997 people attending the three finals matches.
Year on year, the overall attendance of the league has peaked and troughed. In 2016-17, the total attendance including finals was 86,949. That figure rose to 127,494 in 2017-18. This season saw around 12,000 fewer people rock up to games but the fact that the total was still six figures is an undeniable positive.
An important factor that needs to be taken into account is the number of double headers throughout the season.
Using the past three seasons as a (small) sample size, the general consensus is the higher the number of double header matches, the bigger the overall attendance.
The 2017-18 season had the most number of double headers (24) of the last three campaigns. Consequently it had the highest overall attendance.
This season there were fewer double headers (15 plus the Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory semi final) which goes some way in explaining the reduced overall attendance.
There are plenty of things that need to be taken into consideration when critically assessing the value of double headers.
Kick off times can be awful for the women’s matches – 5:20pm on a Friday – and the time in which attendances are taken – around the 70th minute factor in spectators who have only rocked up early to the men’s game as well.
Whether or not intention is important when calculating crowd numbers is a discussion for another time.
Ultimately, the total W-League attendance is lower than last season. However, there are so many positives beyond that number. Only one match all season had an attendance lower than 500. In the previous two seasons there were 11 and 4 respectively.
The number of standalone fixtures that had attendance recorded as over 1000 people is 25. This betters the 10 games in 2016-17 and 16 in 2017-18.
The W-League is growing and it will continue to do so if stakeholders continue to put in the effort to nurture and encourage this.