What have been the lowest attendances in Premier League history? We look at the data ahead of Luton Town’s first-ever Premier League season at Kenilworth Road.
We’re going to burst your bubble from the off – Luton Town aren’t going to be breaking any attendance records in 2023-24 unless something goes spectacularly wrong.
Ahead of their first-ever Premier League home match on 1 September 2023 versus West Ham United at Kenilworth Road, Luton have been working hard to upgrade their stadium to meet Premier League guidelines. This meant their match against Burnley – originally scheduled for Matchday 2 – had to be postponed, and the Hatters are the first team since Blackpool in 2010-11 to open a top-flight English league season with two away games.
Following this work, Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road stadium won’t even be the smallest in the Premier League this season. As revealed by their CEO Gary Sweet in the summer, their work over the summer will mean their ground capacity overtakes Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium, which currently holds 11,307.
Kenilworth Road, the club’s home since 1905, had a capacity of 10,356 last season in the Championship, but Sweet said work to rebuild the Bobbers Stand would take it beyond that of the Vitality Stadium. The exact capacity has yet to be revealed, however.
In anticipation of Bournemouth and Luton’s battle to avoid having the lowest Premier League crowd of 2023-24, we look back at the lowest attendances in the history of the competition since it began in 1992.
Of course, there is a caveat here. There were 437 Premier League games played behind closed doors across the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons due to the Covid pandemic. It would be silly of us to include those fixtures, plus the additional 35 Premier League games in 2020-21 that were played behind intentionally limited crowds as fans were slowly reintroduced to stadiums.
The Lowest Crowd in Premier League History
Only 3,039 people were in attendance for Wimbledon versus Everton on 26 January 1993. This remains the lowest crowd in Premier League history, with those 3,039 fans seeing Everton defeat the south London club 3-1 on a cold, wet January night at Selhurst Park.
Wimbledon were in the second year of ground-sharing with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, after their own Plough Lane stadium was deemed unfit to host football and unsuitable for redevelopment in a post Taylor report-era. There aren’t exact numbers available, but it’s believed that there were at least as many away fans there to support Everton on the night as paying spectators following Wimbledon.
The fans that were in attendance that night missed out on a Tony Cottee brace, Ian Snodin’s only Premier League goal in 52 appearances, a John Fashanu consolation strike and an 18-man brawl.
The 40 lowest attendances in Premier League history all belong to Wimbledon at Selhurst Park, ranging between that record low of 3,039 and 8,835 versus Crystal Palace (as an away team in their own stadium) between the inaugural 1992-93 season and April 2000.
Okay, But Excluding Wimbledon?
Taking Wimbledon at Selhurst Park out of the equation, the answer might surprise the more modern Premier League observer.
Chelsea hosted Coventry City at Stamford Bridge on 4 May 1994 and only 8,923 fans witnessed the Sky Blues’ 2-1 away victory. These were the days where cars were able to park behind the goal at Stamford Bridge, but reports are unconfirmed about whether they were included in the crowd tally.
Coventry City themselves saw a sub-10,000 crowd back in October 1994, when they defeated Ipswich Town 2-0 at their former Highfield Road stadium. That crowd of 9,526 was just under 500 more than Southampton’s 9,028 in December 1993 – also versus Ipswich – at the Dell.
Oldham Athletic make up the rest of the top five in the admittedly niche run down of the lowest crowds Premier League history to not include Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.
Their August 1993 clash with the Dons saw just 9,633 in attendance at Boundary Park, while they attracted 138 more spectators in December 1993 (9,771) as they defeated Swindon Town 2-1.
The Lowest Average Attendances Across a Premier League Season
It’ll come as little surprise to see that Wimbledon also top this ranking. Their average crowd of 8,400 across 21 games in the 1992-93 campaign is the lowest average attendance in a Premier League season.
Considering Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium only holds a shade over 11,000 spectators, it will also be unsurprising to see them feature in this ranking too. Their five Premier League seasons before 2023-24 see them take up five of the seven lowest averages, with last season’s 10,309 the second lowest average across a single Premier League season outside the two Covid-hit campaigns.
Luton Town will inevitably make the top 10 come the end of 2023-24, as will Bournemouth yet again.
The Last Premier League Crowd Under 10,000?
The last time that a Premier League match was attended by fewer than 10,000 spectators was on New Year’s Eve 2022, when Bournemouth lost 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace. Evidently, fans wanted to start their New Year celebrations early, and weren’t enticed by some football at the Vitality Stadium.
This was eight fans fewer than Bournemouth had in attendance for their 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town on 4 December 2018, while Bournemouth also has a suspiciously rounded 10,000 spectators exactly on the opening day of the 2022-23 season as they defeated Aston Villa 2-0.
Luton’s last competitive game at Kenilworth Road saw them defeat Sunderland in their Championship play-off semi-final second leg match. They reached Wembley in front of a crowd of 10,013, but the expectation is that the Hatters will be able to have at least 1,000 more in attendance for their first-ever Premier League game at home to West Ham on 1 September.