Little home comfort for Orient as attendances tumble
Crowds at their lowest since the club won promotion
Orient entertain promotion-chasing Huddersfield Town on Saturday and will be hoping that the fixture pulls in a bumper crowd.
The O’s have struggled at home this season losing seven league games – and have paid the price for their disappointing form at The Matchroom with a dip in attendance levels.
The club’s 15 home games in League One this season have pulled in just 63,566 fans at an average of 4,237.
The highest gate being 5,928 for the visit of Sheffield United, while the midweek match at home to Bournemouth attracted the lowest attendance of the season, when just 3,258 turned up.
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The O’s find themselves sixth bottom in the League attendance stakes, with only Yeovil Town, Colchester United, Stevenage, Bury and Rochdale below them. The figure is almost 350 down on last season, when O’s averaged 4,582 a game.
With just eight home games to go it’s hard to see that average improving – especially as four of those games are against Scunthorpe, Walsall, Yeovil and Rochdale – sides also struggling in the attendance stakes.
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Promotion-chasing Huddersfield, should attract a decent crowd to The Matchroom Stadium, as should the visit of Sheffield Wednesday and London rivals Brentford, but those clashes are unlikely to add too many to the season’s average.
The club were always expecting attendance figures to dip this season with the loss of so many southern-based sides.
With Southampton, who attracted a gate of nearly 8,000 last year going up with Brighton and Peterborough, plus Dagenham & Redbridge, Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Swindon dropping through the relegation trapdoor, attendances were always going to be dented.
The poor start to the season did not help as O’s took just three points from their first 10 games and have won just four out of 15 home games in the league, despite moving from the foot of the table up to 15th and putting a 10-point cushion between themselves and the bottom four.
If the current average attendance figure stays around the same mark it will be the lowest since Orient won promotion in 2006 – and their poorest for seven years, when the average dipped below 4,000.
The figures will not help the club’s finances as they need an average gate of more than 6,000 just to break even.
Orient chief executive Matt Porter admitted: “Losing teams like Southampton, Peterborough and Brighton was always going to have an effect. That was a blow.
“But we did sell more than 3,000 season tickets for the first time in three years.
“The figure fluctuates between 2,800 and 3,200. So it was good to go over the 3,000 mark.
“So we were confident our home support would be strong, but results here have not been good, so that makes it harder to pull in the floating fans.
“You can’t hide from the fact that the team’s form influences people’s decisions.”