A friend on Facebook posted the following image of a newspaper cutting, and it piqued my interest because, despite not being a fan of either club, it really annoys me when people misuse statistics posed as facts, just to score points off a rival.

StatisticsDespite being only a small text, it manages to twist three separate nuggets of information in order to take a pot shot showing how one clubs supporters are more ‘loyal and passionate’ than their local rivals.

Firstly the attendance at the Stoke game referenced was 27989 according to ESPN, which is roughly 85% of St Mary’s 32589 (according to Wikipedia) capacity. Since “more than a fifth empty” would require less than 80% attendance, the ‘article’ is factually incorrect. Not a great start.

Secondly , it might well be the case that St Mary’s has only been full once this season. We can compare this to the highest gate at Fratton Park this season, which according to ESPN is 18181, for a ground with a capacity of 20,688. So Fratton Park has not been full even once this season. So while factually correct, without the context of a corresponding statistic for Fratton Park, and in the context of the text, it’s a deliberately misleading statement.

Finally, the average attendance at Fratton Park this season of 15355 (or around 75% capacity) is indeed impressive given the level of football being played. Comparing apples to apples, this matches up to the 29843 (or roughly 91% capacity) at St. Mary’s. So if anything, more of the available seats are taken for Saints games than Pompey games.

As a fan of neither club, I’m don’t think this actually tells us anything about the loyalty and passion in Hampshire, except some people will do anything to take a pot shot at their neighbours, even if it means making up stuff and misusing stats….


For the record, I’m a Spurs fan…