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The Decline In Crowds At Munster Matches Was Wholly Predictable

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Post by Chunky Norwich Tue 17 Nov 2015, 5:13 pm

First topic message reminder :

http://www.balls.ie/rugby/the-decline-in-crowds-at-munster-matches-was-wholly-predictable/316134

Only 7.200 supporters attended Munster's victory over Ulster in the Guinness Pro12 two weeks ago. Afterwards, Anthony Foley bemoaned the paltry attendance.

He told the Irish Independent;

It is disappointing that the crowd was what it was. The umbilical chord has always been there between Munster and our supporters. It's important people come and support us.

You've got to come and sample it. Watching it on TV is only armchair stuff - you've got to come here and feel it. It's important for Limerick that everyone comes out and supports the game. It's a big stadium that needs filling and it's a great atmosphere.
For Saturday's Heineken Cup opener against Treviso, the crowd was bigger but not by a whole lot.

What to make of this?

Observing the fervour of their supporters during the noughties, it was easy to assume that the red hordes have been travelling to Munster games since the earliest days of the oval game (as George Hook might phrase it).

The truth is that Munster's success in the professional era pre-dates the bulk of their following jumping on board - not the other way around.

With Munster now struggling to compete with the top sides in Europe, a large portion of that support seems to be drifting away. We asked historian Dr. Liam O'Callaghan, the author of Rugby in Munster: a social and cultural history for his assessment of this trend.

Last year, we wrote about Munster's first ever match in the Heineken Cup back in November 1995. O'Callaghan was there that day as Munster pipped Swansea thanks to late winning try by Shannon full back Pat Murray.

Thomond Park was only half-full and the chatter on the terrace was not about Munster and their chances in this new-fangled competition but about the upcoming AIL games. The main concern was that one of these Munster players might pick up an injury and miss a genuinely important match.

There were a few thousand at it, there was no real fuss about it, and everybody in the crowd was just talking about the club fixtures of the previous weekend. This Munster thing was just a gentle distraction from the much more important business of AIL fixtures.

The attendance was such at the stadium that both of us viewed the game by following the play quite easily by walking around the game to follow where the action was. It was quite easy to position oneself behind the goals at Conversion time , in a vain effort to be photographed... In terms of hype around the game, for us as supporters, we were more inquisitive as to how the new competition would take off, considering it was at a time when the AIL was the be all and end all in Irish competition terms.
O'Callaghan says the drop in Munster's attendances in recent years was wholly predictable. A transient fanbase was attracted to Munster because of their success in the last decade and now that success has disappeared they are disappearing too.

Firstly, it's no great surprise. The crowds were attracted first and foremost by success. And in the last six or seven years, that's kind of fallen away. And we're seeing crowds falling away as well.
Pre-professionalism, Munster participated in the dowdy and unglamorous inter-provincial championship every winter. This competition was accompanied by resounding public disinterest (that Ulster won it every year from 1984 to 1994 may have contributed to the southern media's lukewarm attitude to the competition). It was barely any glitzier than the Railway Cup.

If you had a touring side coming from Australia and New Zealand, then you might get a big crowd but the old inter-provincial championship was a really unloved competition, a few men and his dog used to show up to watch it. The real hardcore support went to club football... that's where you got the crowds. The Munster phenomenon only took off in the professional era so there was always something new-fangled about it in the first instance.

Given that the Munster phenomenon is relatively recent, you see a lot of flexibility around demand on the supporters side, so the entrenched loyalties that older football clubs in England would have going back 150 years may not apply to the same extent.
Will the decline in the crowds at Thomond Park continue? Well, the level of success enjoyed in the mid-noughties is unlikely to return to Munster in the short-term. Ireland's provincial teams are struggling to keep pace with the monied French outfits.

No other team - apart from the other provinces - is so dependant on the players it can produce in its immediate geographical area. If you compare that to the Toulon team that won the Heineken Cup last year, they had only one player from the city of Toulon... I really think the bar has been raised in the last few years and the Irish provincial structure and business model can't really compete.

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Post by Chunky Norwich Wed 18 Nov 2015, 10:47 pm

LondonTiger wrote: Toulon spent 30m Euros in total, of which 11.9m Euros was direct salaries.

the 30m is a budget forecast that is done each year.


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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 19 Nov 2015, 8:18 am

So given the English clubs who want to compete with the French are (through cheating) and the rest aren't through choice of sticking with the wage cap why would they want to change anything? Why would the Irish want to change anything as it's working for them. And why would anyone want mroe competition as this article says it will adversely affect crowds if you're not winning.

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Post by LondonTiger Thu 19 Nov 2015, 9:01 am

LeinsterFan4life wrote:
VinceWLB wrote:The Salary cap means absolutely Poopie in the top 14. I don't even know why it exists.
It actually does the opposite of what it is suppose to do. All the other teams are restricted in the amount they can spend but the likes of Toulon and Racing can spent what they want because their rich owners can get their business to "sponsor" players.

Strictly with Toulon it is no longer Mourad, but the Municipality that provide funding. I read a report where the Mayor was quoted explaining just how much outside investment is being ploughed into the town off the back of the rugby clubs successes, turning what was a minor working class town with high unemployment on the south coast into something much more vibrant.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 19 Nov 2015, 9:21 am

Chunky Norwich wrote:
Munchkin wrote:What point? This has been debated many many times on here, and it's always you that seems stuck on it, Chunky. You simply can't believe the spending of the Provinces is anywhere near the top T14 clubs.

Geoff999rugby states on this thread, that Leinster, Munster and Ulster spend upwards of £5.5m
Toulon officially state that their salary spend was £5.9m last season.

These are not my figures. They are Geoff's and Toulon's.

I did no such thing I stated it was the explicit aim of the Irish provinces to match the English salary cap to stay competitive
You introduced the figure of £5.5m

In addition I quoted the French salary cap at 10 million euro which is about £7.2m to which can be added a number of players on 50,000 euro
So probably a figure of around £8m.
Over and beyond that if you seriously believe that Toulon are significantly spending less than the French salary cap I believe you are deluded.

Just look at the players - Ulster have only 3 on more than £200,000 - Pienaer, Best and Bowe.
Toulon have:
Vermulen, Lobbe, Smith, Gorgodze, Armitage in their backrow alone
Add in Halfpenny, Mitchell, Habana, O'Connor, Giteau, Basteraud, Michalek, Mermoz, Nonu, Cooper, Manu,  POC, Armitage are you seriously suggesting our salaries are the equal of theirs  Erm
Lets put each of their front rows on a average salary of £120,000 and each of their other players not listed on a salary of £75,000 (probably an underestimate there are some good players there)

10 x £120,000 = £1.2 million
19 x £75,000 = £1.425 million

That leaves £3.3 million from the salary level you quote (got a link by the way ?)
I have listed 18 players for £5.9million  to be correct those 18 would have to average out at £183,333 a year - not a chance in hell

There is no way on this earth Toulon are not at the top of the French salary cap and that is north of £7.2 million
The Irish provinces by contrast are at the same as the English (which you tell me is £5.5 million)

That is a significant difference and shows in the squads

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Post by marty2086 Thu 19 Nov 2015, 9:42 am

geoff in fairness those players could be taking those amounts home in 'salary' but as Mourad has been quite honest about they take home big sums home too from image rights which is a fixed sum unrelated to performance but NOT a salary

Dan Carter is reportedly taking home 1m a year from Racing, only half of which is salary the other half is image rights

Its a creative end run around the cap and probably where Leinster got the Sexton idea from

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 19 Nov 2015, 9:48 am

I am sure you are right but even so I do not believe for one moment those 18 named players are on an average salary below £200,000

The bottom line is Toulon pay their players collectively an income, directly or indirectly, way above the English and the Irish teams.

Toulons 4th and 5th backrowers are Smith and Lobbe - ours are Wilson and Reidy Sad

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Post by Sin é Thu 19 Nov 2015, 10:08 am

It seems Munster had lined up Stephen Moore for next season and were blocked by the IRFU. The IRFU don't need a salary cap to exercise control.

As an aside, its interesting that the Irish Provinces can still attract top SH players.

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Post by marty2086 Thu 19 Nov 2015, 10:29 am

geoff I think Toulon, like Racing, pay the image rights from their stadium operating company which is a different department/company so its not from rugby operations

Its a gapping loop hole that no ones bothered about closing


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Post by marty2086 Thu 19 Nov 2015, 10:31 am

Sin é wrote:It seems Munster had lined up Stephen Moore for next season and were blocked by the IRFU. The IRFU don't need a salary cap to exercise control.

As an aside, its interesting that the Irish Provinces can still attract top SH players.


They were also stopped from signing a back rower too and are apparently looking at Dominic Ryan now from what I read, which will be a kick in the nuts for Ulster if he moves

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 19 Nov 2015, 12:05 pm

marty2086 wrote:geoff I think Toulon, like Racing, pay the image rights from their stadium operating company which is a different department/company so its not from rugby operations

Its a gapping loop hole that no ones bothered about closing


Basically making the French salary cap a complete and utter nonsense and confirming what we all know the top French teams pay their players, by various methods, far far more than the English clubs who keep to the cap (as opposed to those that don't) and the Irish Provinces.

Some worrying smoke coming out from Munster they have some serious financial problems - presumably Thomond park.
Overall Irish rugby is ok because Leinster and Ulster are both in, comparatively, rude financial health.
I wonder if the blocking of Moore and a backrower has something to do with the IRFU wanting them to be in better financial order.
Certainly the blocking of Moore makes no sense as there are no NIQ hookers in Ireland and those players consider 1 to 4 in the pecking order all play for Ulster or Leinster.

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Post by Sin é Thu 19 Nov 2015, 12:22 pm

Any financial difficulties that Munster have are due to match scheduling - i.e., having an interpro (v Ulster) at 6pm on Friday is just not going to help the financial situation. It seems also now with the cancelling and reschedulling of the Stade game next weekend that the interpro between Munster & Connacht will be moved to a Wednesday night.

All we need now is for Schmidt to decide that none of the internationals can play in the Leinster interpro!

Munster owe just under 9m euro to the IRFU for Thomond Park. If they are that worried about Munster's finances, let them stop blocking Munster hosting a touring side in Thomond side which would go a long way to sorting out Munster's finances.
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Post by marty2086 Thu 19 Nov 2015, 12:23 pm

It is understood that the IRFU’s main reluctance centred around the fact that Moore, who turns 33 in January but remains in superb condition, would have denied homegrown Irish-qualified players game time.

Munster currently have Mike Sherry, Duncan Casey, Niall Scannell and Kevin O’Byrne as hooking options in their senior squad.

Does the English cap now not also include an overrun tax for those that break the salary cap? Which disadvantages some clubs

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 19 Nov 2015, 1:51 pm

Munster financial situation needs a lot more than a few more people through the gate.

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Post by Sin é Thu 19 Nov 2015, 1:58 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Munster financial situation needs a lot more than a few more people through the gate.

Like what? Its not as if we were lucky enough to get a newly developed stadium for free. The only way Munster can increase their revenue is with gate receipts - the IRFU pretty much takes everything else.

Still, for a Province you believe to be in such financial straits, its surprising that they have redeveloped Musgrave and are having a custom built training centre built in Limerick (to be ready next year).

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 19 Nov 2015, 3:32 pm

The debt for Thomond is the problem how it is going to be shifted?

Sure we got 3 sides of the ground built for us - we have nearly paid off the debt for the Terrace side which we paid for.
Its not just that though Munster crowds are now the 3rd highest in Ireland.

Less money going into Munster than either Ulster or Leinster I suspect.

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Post by Sin é Thu 19 Nov 2015, 5:30 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:The debt for Thomond is the problem how it is going to be shifted?

Sure we got 3 sides of the ground built for us - we have nearly paid off the debt for the Terrace side which we paid for.
Its not just that though Munster crowds are now the 3rd highest in Ireland.

Less money going into Munster than either Ulster or Leinster I suspect.

I don't think the loan from the IRFU for Thomond is much of a problem as it has been restructured. Fairly nominal amounts now with a largish lump sum when 10 year tickets will be up (2018 I think). The loan does not have to be repaid until about 2027.

Hosting a mid-week game v. Australia, SA or ABs would be worth about 800K to Munster, but the IRFU won't approve one because they are afraid that it will affect AI ticket sales. The fact that the IRFU agreed that no internationals would take place outside of the Aviva hasn't helped Munster either and I'd imagine the IRFU realise that they have made it very difficult for Munster to generate extra cash to pay off the loan.

As for attendances - what do they expect with the staging of games at 6pm (or any time) on a Friday evening. It just doesn't suit Munster supporters who have to travel long distances. The lack of a motorway between Cork & Limerick is also a huge factor with regard to attendances. Still, Munster had the 2nd official highest attendance (after Leicester) for Champs Cup last weekend with just under 18K. Leinster's official attendance was just under 17K (though I've no doubt that neither games actually had that number of people at them).

Adidas just signed another 4 year deal, so the jersey sales must be good. Munster have a fairly high powered Commercial Board (with Doug Howlett as corporate ambassador) who seem to have done a lot recently with the finances.








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Post by doctor_grey Thu 19 Nov 2015, 5:40 pm

Sin é wrote:Adidas just signed another 4 year deal, so the jersey sales must be good. Munster have a fairly high powered Commercial Board (with Doug Howlett as corporate ambassador) who seem to have done a lot recently with the finances.
I would have to think Munster has amongst the highest sales of jerseys and other paraphernalia of any Rugby team. It's hard to travel anywhere withut seeing someone wearing a Munster jersey.

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Post by Chunky Norwich Thu 19 Nov 2015, 6:18 pm

Sin é wrote:.

As for attendances - what do they expect with the staging of games at 6pm (or any time) on a Friday evening. It just doesn't suit Munster supporters who have to travel long distances.

Yet when this is raised for other teams in the league, the lower attendance is seen a conspiracy theory, and we should just get on with it.

You really couldn't make this sh1t up. Double standards on an epic deluded scale.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Thu 19 Nov 2015, 6:22 pm

Chunky Norwich wrote:
Sin é wrote:.

As for attendances - what do they expect with the staging of games at 6pm (or any time) on a Friday evening. It just doesn't suit Munster supporters who have to travel long distances.

Yet when this is raised for other teams in the league, the lower attendance is seen a conspiracy theory, and we should just get on with it.

You really couldn't make this sh1t up. Double standards on an epic deluded scale.
Your "theory" was that the schedule for the Pro 12 was made up by the IRFU to favour all the provinces which you have just debunked with this thread. The tv companies seem happy to shoot themselves and the league in the foot with ridiculous kick off times such as this.

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Post by Guest Thu 19 Nov 2015, 6:24 pm

Chunky Norwich wrote:
Sin é wrote:.

As for attendances - what do they expect with the staging of games at 6pm (or any time) on a Friday evening. It just doesn't suit Munster supporters who have to travel long distances.

Yet when this is raised for other teams in the league, the lower attendance is seen a conspiracy theory, and we should just get on with it.

You really couldn't make this sh1t up. Double standards on an epic deluded scale.

You really need to read his comment within context. I don't think Scarlets would have the same problems.

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Post by Chunky Norwich Thu 19 Nov 2015, 6:27 pm

LeinsterFan4life wrote:
Your "theory" was that the schedule for the Pro 12 was made up by the IRFU to favour all the provinces which you have just debunked with this thread.

No it's not. My theory is that the IRFU are overall happy with the status quo on a seasonal basis, and all that the current unfit for purpose tv deal brings. Yet other teams are severely hampered by it.

It's quite hilarious that the Irish teams get 1, yes 1 awkward fixture and they then start to complain. The Welsh teams have had them for seasons but we are told it's irrelevant, no problem, shut up, nothing to see here..


The tv companies seem happy to shoot themselves and the league in the foot with ridiculous kick off times such as this.

Which proves that you only notice when Irish teams are involved. You've bene told this is happening on a regular basis for other teams, but haven't acknowledged there is a problem, because it doesn't affect the Irish.

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Post by Chunky Norwich Thu 19 Nov 2015, 6:30 pm

Not an ounce of shame.

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Post by Sin é Thu 19 Nov 2015, 6:30 pm

Chunky Norwich wrote:
Sin é wrote:.

As for attendances - what do they expect with the staging of games at 6pm (or any time) on a Friday evening. It just doesn't suit Munster supporters who have to travel long distances.

Yet when this is raised for other teams in the league, the lower attendance is seen a conspiracy theory, and we should just get on with it.

You really couldn't make this sh1t up. Double standards on an epic deluded scale.

Hang on a second - your contention is that the Irish manage the Pro12 to suit themselves and make life difficult for the Welsh Regions. The reason why Munster have had some really poor attendances this season is down to having games at 6pm on a Friday evening because of the World Cup which is now over.
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Post by LeinsterFan4life Thu 19 Nov 2015, 6:32 pm

Chunky Norwich wrote:
LeinsterFan4life wrote:
Your "theory" was that the schedule for the Pro 12 was made up by the IRFU to favour all the provinces which you have just debunked with this thread.

No it's not. My theory is that the IRFU are overall happy with the status quo on a seasonal basis, and all that the current unfit for purpose tv deal brings. Yet other teams are severely hampered by it.

It's quite hilarious that the Irish teams get 1, yes 1 awkward fixture and they then start to complain. The Welsh teams have had them for seasons but we are told it's .

The tv companies seem happy to shoot themselves and the league in the foot with ridiculous kick off times such as this.

Which proves that you only notice when Irish teams are involved. You've bene told this is happening on a regular basis for other teams, but haven't acknowledged there is a problem, because it doesn't affect the Irish.
Nope when you started debating this I specifically remember you thought the IRFU was behind scheduling tv deal until people on here had to point out to you many times, that the tv companies dedicates ko times. You think the IRFU run the league... I pointed out to you numerous times Leinster have had awful kick off times (such as playing against he Dragons the same day Ireland played in the 6n) but of course you continue to ignore anything anyone has to say.


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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 20 Nov 2015, 4:23 pm

The IRFU, the Irish Provinces and the various Irish TV companies have zero impact on when Welsh games are played but in deluded Chunky world its different.


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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 20 Nov 2015, 4:31 pm

Regardless of a poor time for a kick off Munster crowds are down

They were below both Leinster and Ulster for the last 2 seasons and this year of the 4 highest games
3 were in Belfast and 1 in Dublin

The trend seems to be becoming more significant this year

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Post by Sin é Sat 21 Nov 2015, 12:52 am

geoff999rugby wrote:Regardless of a poor time for a kick off Munster crowds are down

They were below both Leinster and Ulster for the last 2 seasons and this year of the 4 highest games
3 were in Belfast and 1 in Dublin

The trend seems to be becoming more significant this year

Eh, Munster's attendances have increased over the last 2 seasons (despite the Friday evening games which really, really don't suit Munster supporters).
total attendance pro12:
14/15: 144,973
13/14: 123,337
12/13: 102,894
11/12: 96,787

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Post by geoff999rugby Sat 21 Nov 2015, 11:29 am

Where did you get those figures - Statsbunker?
The site makes loads of mistakes.

e.g Munster figures for 12/13 were Total 155,491 Average 14,136
Taken from the Pro12 figures - the numbers for the following 2 years are down on that figure.

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Post by doctor_grey Sat 21 Nov 2015, 2:02 pm

If I can intrude and ask: What is the conclusion about why Munster attendance is down? I ask because I view Munster as one of the bedrock teams which always (to me) seem to have great support in addition to that global fan base. I get to one or two matches a season at Thomond Park and it has always seemed pretty full.

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Post by 2ndtimeround Sat 21 Nov 2015, 2:57 pm

With the world cup having been on and the Irish fans traveling to watch the national side then there was always going to be a drop in the number of fans that are making it to the league games, fans only have a finite amount of disposable income to spend.
I doubt the reduction in numbers will be as large in the new year.

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Post by Chunky Norwich Sun 22 Nov 2015, 9:08 am

""Leinster have become increasingly self-sufficient, with an annual turnover of about €15 million, excluding monies from the IRFU towards the cost of provincially contracted players. The union pays €90,000 towards 17 of these contracts, and €50,000 toward the remainder.
In Leinster’s case, this amounts to 27 of their 34 fully contracted players, and the IRFU committee was informed that the €2.3 million the union contributes towards these contracts is about €300,000 down on the comparative figure in 2006-07. Hence, the province’s need to generate their own monies has been accentuated. ​"

Interesting article

http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/european-cup/leinster-face-chill-financial-winds-if-denied-riches-from-europe-1.2438647

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Post by SecretFly Sun 22 Nov 2015, 2:31 pm

I feel your concern, Chunky. You'll mourn Leinster's passing.

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 22 Nov 2015, 3:13 pm

2ndtimeround wrote:With the world cup having been on and the Irish fans traveling to watch the national side then there was always going to be a drop in the number of fans that are making it to the league games, fans only have a finite amount of disposable income to spend.
I doubt the reduction in numbers will be as large in the new year.
That makes sense.  Hopefully rebounds soon.  To me, if a team like Munster start having shortfalls in attendance ovr a longer period of time that is a worrying sign for Rugby in our islands.

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Post by Sin é Sun 22 Nov 2015, 3:20 pm

doctor_grey wrote:If I can intrude and ask:  What is the conclusion about why Munster attendance is down?  I ask because I view Munster as one of the bedrock teams which always (to me) seem to have great support in addition to that global fan base.  I get to one or two matches a season at Thomond Park and it has always seemed pretty full.  

A couple of things - but the main one is economic downturn - Limerick in particular would have been hit fairly hard, with a lot of emigration to UK, US & Australia and migration to Dublin. This is fairly evident from the amateur game where a couple of the Dublin clubs have started doing well mainly because they are full of Munster born players who have moved to Dublin for work. Having games on a Friday night does not suit this constituency. Then there is no motorway between Limerick & Cork (the major centre in Munster).

Looking at a positive from this, Munster's foreign game in France and England will be over subscribed with Munster fans!

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Post by Marshes Sun 22 Nov 2015, 3:32 pm

I'd say you'll see a good attendance at the weekend against Connacht, not packed out like it might be for Ulster/Leinster/European games, but now that the World Cup is over and we are back to the club season for a bit it'll pick up.

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