Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 27 September 2007

Blackburn in Europe - the biggest turn-off of all?

The people behind the scenes at Chelsea have obviously been getting a little concerned of late. After The Blues' first Champions League game of the season attracted a crowd of 'only' 24,973, the powers that be have decided to lower the price of the cheapest Champions League tickets from £45 to £36.

With seats to fill, the priority is obviously to maximise revenue but to say there's a crisis going on is to miss the point. Chelsea's match against Rosenborg was the first European home tie of the season and the opposition was, with all due respect, not the kind to make fans queue up round the block for 48 hours in advance demanding a ticket.

Yes, the price of the cheapest tickets was rather high, but that has been addressed now and I for one wouldn't be surprised to see considerably more of the 40,055 seats filled for the next game.

Chelsea at least managed to fill over half of their stadium for that match against the Norwegians recently. If you're looking for a more serious situation than that, turn your attention towards Blackburn Rovers.

In the Premier League last season, Blackburn's Ewood Park stadium was, on average, filled to only 68% of its 31,154 capacity - the lowest of all clubs in the top flight. That works out at an average home attendance of 21,271, but if you take the average from all Blackburn's UEFA Cup ties played at home last year, the figure drops to 17,592.

It will perhaps come as no surprise to learn that the cost of the cheapest ticket at Blackburn for their upcoming home tie against Larissa on October 4th will be just £10. The question is, will it tempt the fans to go along and support their team as they embark on another exciting European campaign?

If last night's Carling Cup match against Birmingham - watched by just 9,205 - is anything to go by, I'd say perhaps not.

It's therefore unfair to point to the empty seats at Chelsea in their match against Rosenborg claiming a crisis is unfolding. For a real crisis, head up the M6 and look for the Blackburn turn-off.

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