SuperLeague season begins with empty stands

SuperLeague season begins with empty stands

The return of league play is usually met with great excitement across Europe and others parts of the world. Judging by the attendance figures of the Greek Super League, the same cannot be said for Greek supporters.

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In a stunning drop of 88.6% from the previous season, the Greek Super League reported this week that Matchday 1 attendances totalled 7,267. As hard as it is to believe, that is the total number of fans from all eight fixtures of the league’s opening weekend.

The ridiculously low turnout can in some way be explained by the fact that Olympiacos and AEK both played their matches without fans due to crowd bans while other top sides such as PAOK and Panathinaikos began the season with away fixtures. It’s also still summer in Greece and the beach usually beats football until September hits.  

However, those facts still seem more like excuses. Even in the best case scenario with PAOK and Panathinaikos playing at home or Olympiacos and AEK being able to have home support there would have certainly still been a drop from last season.

The opening weekend of matches in the 2016/17 season had total attendance at 52,036 while the season before opened with crowds adding up to 58,842. 

Some of the figures from Matchday 1 are just staggering, however a clear indication that fans are just not interested in the Greek Super League after allegations of corruption, match-fixing, and crowd trouble have plagued the sport in Greece in recent years.

Atromitos hosted Apollon Smyrnis in front of only 600 supporters on Monday night. It was not much better in Kerkyra on Saturday as the home side welcomed Panionios in front of only 882 fans.

It was a troubling sight to see Platanias and Panathinaikos play in front of only 1,879 people. Especially considering Panathinaikos are one of the Greece’s most historic sides and that Platanias are coming off a very fine campaign last season. 

It remains to be seen whether these figures will rebound in the weeks to come.  Certainly this is not a good development for the Super League or for football in the country in general. 

by George Tsitsonis
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