League of Ireland Attendances 2023 - Gameweek 1

Action from the League of Ireland Premier Divison match between Cork City FC and Bohemians FC at Turner's Cross.

Action from the League of Ireland Premier Divison match between Cork City FC and Bohemians FC at Turner's Cross. Credit: David Ribeiro (ETPhotos)

The buzz around the 2023 League of Ireland season was clear weeks out from kick-off as clubs declared record sales of season tickets. For the league itself, a new lick of paint with a rebranding and a general post-COVID League of Ireland surge in interest that had shown signs of happening pre-COVID seems to point to interesting times for clubs in regarding attendances.

It’s hard to compare this Gameweek with previous opening ones from 2022 and 2019 as both seasons didn’t start off with a complete set of fixtures. We can give an indication of difference by selecting the first Gameweek from each season with a full set of fixtures and comparing.   

In total, 30,221 people attended League of Ireland over the weekend, which when you do compare it to the first full Gameweek of 2019, it is an increase of 9,663. In 2022, the first Gameweek to have all nine fixtures was in March, and the attendance increase on that was 10,251.

However that had one fixture less played so it would be fairer to compare average attendances in which case in 2023 the average was 3,022 compared to 2,218 last year.

So at initial glance, it is an impressive surge in attendances but what is more interesting is when you look at why this is happening.

Looking at the weekend’s figures compared to last year’s best attended game for each club, it is not quite what you’d expect.

In the Premier Division, St Patrick’s Athletic, Dundalk and Shelbourne posted impressive opening day tallies but they were lower then their best attendances from 2022. Pats were 397 lower then their best, Dundalk 404 less with Shels 814 off their best from 2022. Cork City, in the First Division last term, increased by 94 on their 2022 best. Sligo Rovers recorded the biggest increase over last year with 891 attending more on Saturday compared to 2022.

So, that means the Premier Division teams collectively posted a decrease of 630 compared to their collective best in 2022. So the real story in our attendance figures for the opening week of 2023 lies with how the First Division fared.

Wexford, with a local derby against Waterford, posted an attendance of 1,981. That was up an incredible 1,163 on their highest attendance last season. A great crowd bolstered by a large travelling contingent.

Longford Town, who didn’t fare well last season regarding attendances, had 1,514 turn up which was up 788 on their 2022 top crowd. Finn Harps, under the new management of Dave Rogers, saw 2,517 attend, that is up 505 on their 2022 best attendance.

Treaty United were the only side to not break 1,000 but did have a decent 919 turn out to Markets Field. That was down 382 on their top figure of 2022 but still a solid crowd compared to most of last season’s figures. It would have ranked second highest when matched with last season.

Kerry, new to the league, had an estimated crowd of 1,200. When we get the official figure we will update this article, but again, an impressive attendance overall for a First Division game.

When comparing the four clubs best of 2022 with last weekend, the First Division posted an increase of 2,074 on their best possible attendances of last season. Add in Kerry’s attendance and that reaches 3,200.

So overall, Gameweek 1 has been a great success for League of Ireland attendances with five clubs surpassing their 2022 season’s best attendances already. As with every year, the true test comes when clubs start to post losses over wins and how the crowds sustain but only time will tell if the momentum will continue. All signs, and season ticket sales, suggest a positive outlook.

Gameweek Comparisons to Best Attendance 2022 

Team2023 G12022 BestDiff
Cork 6,487 6,393 94
St. Pats 4,789 5,186 -397
Sligo R 4,248 3,357 891
Shels 3,424 4,238 -814
Dundalk 3,142 3,546 -404
Harps 2,517 2.012 505
Wexford 1,981 818 1,163
Longford 1,514 726 788
Kerry 1,200 N/A N/A
Treaty 919 1,301 -382

Gameweek 1 Attendances

Home TeamAway TeamAttendance
Cork Bohs 6,487
St. Pats Derry 4,789
Sligo R Shamrock R 4,248
Shels Drogs 3,424
Dundalk UCD 3,142
Harps Galway 2,517
Wexford Waterford 1,981
Longford Athlone 1,514
Kerry Cobh R 1,200
Treaty Bray 919
 Average Overall 3,022
 Average Premier 4,418
 Average First 1,626