The first weekend of the 2020 SSE Airtricity Premier Division drew a total of 15,737 spectators to five League of Ireland venues across the country.
The average attendance was 3,147 which is slightly lower than the 2019 opening weekend but ahead of the previous three year. In 2019, the average attendance was 3,288, with 2,892 in 2018, 2,492 in 2017 and 2,924 in 2016.
The largest crowd of the weekend was in Turner’s Cross as 3,961 turned up to see Shelbourne beat Cork City by a single goal to nil. The attendance was a little lower than the Rebel Army’s opening home gate last year (4,382) but well down on 2017 (6,443). Our attendance records go back to 2008 and that is the 37th largest home gate for City.
The storm may have caused RTÉ to withdraw from filming the Dublin derby but the fans still turned out as a sold-out Dalymount (3,580) witnessed Shamrock Rovers take all three points. Again since 2008, that is the Gypsies 10th largest audience. If they could have provided more seats, they would probably have been filled.
Dundalk come next as 3,152 watched the Champions record a 1-0 win over Derry City which is the 34th largest home league crowd since 2008. It is a couple hundred last than their first game last season.
St. Patrick’s Athletic drew a crowd of 2,807 as they lost 1-0 to Waterford. It is down on their opening gate from 2019 but still registers as their 11th largest league gate in the last 12 years.
Finn Harps may have just about held onto their Premier Division status last season but Ollie Horgan’s men took all three points against Sligo Rovers with 2,237 watching on. That is the 5th largest crowd the club have had at a league game since 2008. It is just under 400 more than their opening home game last term.
While the opening fixture between Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers is attractive, it is a game that is always guaranteed to sell-out in recent years.
The opening game also traditionally sees a crowd surge so playing a sell-out cert is potentially losing a club income. Due to the popularity of the fixture, it may be better to schedule it for a traditionally weaker gameweek (midweek) as to maximise the gate income across the season.