While the FA asks Premier League teams to release official attendance numbers which include all the people who purchased tickets for a certain home match, police records, counting only those actually passing through the turnstiles, tell a very different story to what Manchester United would have you believe about the amount of fans who watch matches at Old Trafford during the weekend.
How big is the difference? About 10,000 people big, meaning you weren’t alone or crazy when you saw more than one or two empty seats in the stands, but the official attendance numbers pointed towards a full house. United regularly announce attendances in excess of 75,000, with an average of 75,525 this season. The real average of fans watching matches at Old Trafford? The police data shows the average Old Trafford attendance is 10,000 fewer than the figures announced.
For example – the official attendance for the season home opener against Fulham was 75,352. The actual attendance was just over 66,000. United announced the attendance at January’s clash with Southampton as 75,600, but the police figures show the actual crowd was 59,766 – a difference of 15,834. There’s more where that came from.
Except for their recent loss in the derby to Manchester City, United’s actual record attendance this season in the Premier League was the 69,933 people who came to see them beat Liverpool 2-1. The biggest case of disparity was in the Champions League, when United played Cluj, claiming an attendance of 71,521. The police counted only 46,894 fans that actually entered the stadium.