England’s international friendly match against Sweden on Tuesday was witnessed by Wembley’s lowest attendance since 1998, with only 48,836 fans turning up to watch the game.
Not since the Czech Republic were the opponents for Glenn Hoddle’s men thirteen years today have there been so many empty seats for a full international played on home soil.
Although the low attendance has been widely mentioned in the press reports following the game, it’s fair to note that few other nations manage to attract 50,000 for a friendly.
But England games have always been incredibly well attended, and even friendly games against less glamorous nations have often seen a good turnout, although the general pattern is that throughout the five-year reign of Fabio Capello, gate numbers have been consistently falling.
In 2007, the first year at the new Wembley, an average of almost 87,000 spectators attended England games. This year, that number has shrunk to 75,551.
Has the price of tickets put fans off, as the effects of a recession continue to be felt throughout the country?
Are more fans choosing to invest their time and money watching club football at the expense of internationals?
Or, with an unsettled and constantly changing team, a manager who everyone knows will be leaving the job next summer, and a series of recent performances which are unlikely to encourage fans to go to the trouble of attending a midweek game that they could stay at home and watch, are England games simply not worth bothering with anymore?