SPL and Setanta spin the figures

Last updated : 03 February 2009 By Firparkcorner

While the armchair audience grows, the effect that live coverage has on the numbers through the turnstiles is clearly evident. $etanta's main offering is targeted at fans of Rangers and Celtic. There are clear commercial decisions which justify this approach and the well known tag 'Old Firm TV' was easily earned.

It was not so many years ago that clubs out with Glasgow were all but guaranteed a full house when one of the big two visited but the list below shows that income through the gate has dropped like a stone when the TV cameras come calling.

Motherwell v Celtic (
9/9/2008) Attendance 8507

Kilmarnock v Celtic (21/9/2008) Attendance 8111

St Mirren v Rangers (5/10/2008) Attendance 7520

Hamilton v Rangers (25/10/2008) Attendance 4613

St Mirren v Celtic (22/11/2008) Attendance 7433

SPl chairman, Lex Gold, said, "Our attendances are also up by around 0.7% compared to last season. That represents about 700 extra fans coming to our games each weekend. These are average figures but the increase in people watching at home is clearly not having an adverse impact on our gates."

Not so, Lex. That statistic will bring little comfort to the treasurers at clubs which saw attendances fall as fans opted to watch games from the armchair or pub.

The TV company would rather broadcast from a ground packed with spectators rather than have rows of empty seats as a backdrop. It might be in their interest to encourage clubs to slash prices for games which are selected for live transmission - and it would benefit fans too!