6:00 AM June 4, 2022
Ipswich Town ended the 2021/22 season with the third best average home attendance in League One, with figures better than three Premier League clubs.
Last season also proved to be the best average home league attendance at Portman Road since the 2007/08 season under Jim Magilton, when Town were in the Championship.
The Blues averaged 21,779 for home crowds in League One games last campaign, just 1,200 behind Sheffield Wednesday and just under 12,000 behind Sunderland’s impressive support. The Black Cats were the top supported side in League One for home attendance.
It’s a huge fillip for Town’s new owners to see such a marked improvement in attendances at Portman Road and incredible to think the club are 4,000 fans up on average per League One home games, compared to the 2018/19 season when they were last in the Championship.
Averaging 28K at home is the goal of Town CEO Mark Ashton. Speaking at a fans’ forum back in March as attendances at Portman Road continued to improve, he said: “This is top, top Championship attendances we are getting at Portman Road. We want more. I think we can genuinely get to something like a 28,000 average.”
That would be something special but, with more than 15,000 season tickets already sold for the forthcoming campaign, not pie in the sky.
You have to go back to the halcyon days of Bobby Robson to find the last time Town regularly averaged more than 20,000 per season year in, year out at Portman Road, (26,674 in the 1976/77 season when Town finished third in Division One behind Liverpool and Manchester City).
After Robson left to take over England, and Town were relegated, average attendances at Portman Road held themselves around the high teens as Town battled to get back in the Premiership after relegation, something John Lyall achieved in 1992.
But Town found it hard work back in England’s top division and even though they survived relegation by ending fourth bottom in 1993/94, average home attendances were down to 16,407.
When George Burley took over in December 1994, attendances were beginning to drop at an alarming rate, regularly under 10,000 at Portman Road for Division One games in the 1995/96 season.
Burley took time turning that around, but turn it around he did as Ipswich got themselves back in the Premier League in 2000. Average home attendance were back up in the 20,000 mark again and, even when Town were relegated back to the Championship, Jim Magilton and Joe Royle’s exciting brand of football keep attendances at Portman Road high.
Roy Keane’s first full season in charge saw attendances average almost exactly 20,000 but that was the last time that figure was hit – until last season.
Interestingly, Town’s average home attendance last season was higher than three Premier League sides, Watford, Burnley and Brentford.
Average home league attendances in League One 2021/22
1. Sunderland 33,062
2. Sheffield Wednesday 22,908
3. Ipswich Town 21,779
4. Charlton Athletic 15,592
5. Bolton Wanderers 15,439
6. Portsmouth 15,003
7. Plymouth Argyle 13,130
8. Wigan Athletic 10,397
9. Milton Keynes Dons 9,412
10. Rotherham United 9,337
11. Lincoln City 8,773
12. Oxford United 8,463
13. AFC Wimbledon 7,690
14. Doncaster Rovers 6,906
15. Shrewsbury Town 6,216
16. Wycombe Wanderers 5,800
17. Cambridge United 5,668
18. Gillingham 5,139
19. Crewe Alexandra 4,523
20. Morecambe 4,333
21. Cheltenham Town 4,239
22. Burton Albion 3,229
23. Fleetwood Town 3,228
24. Accrington Stanley 2,915
Bottom three average home attendances in the Premier League 2021/22:
18. Watford 20,612
19. Burnley 19,189
20. Brentford 16,912