The Premier League is widely acknowledged as the most popular domestic league competition in world football and it has gone from strength to strength since its big kick-off in 1992.
Some of the world’s top players have featured in the English top flight over the past 30 years, causing attendances to swell and stadiums to get bigger and bigger.
However, it hasn’t always been a case of full houses at every ground so here are five of the lowest attendances in the English Premier League…
3,039 – Wimbledon v Everton, January 26, 1993
There was plenty of room to spare at Selhurst Park on a cold January night as the Dons took on Everton in a miserable contest remembered mainly for the lack of people in the south London stands.
Wimbledon had left their Plough Lane home, which was deemed not fit for purpose following the Taylor Report on ground safety, and pitched up at the home of Crystal Palace to play their home matches.
There were just over 3,000 people there to watch the Toffees run off with a 3-1 win, although the highlight of the match was an 18-man dust-up late in the game.
Reports suggest there were as many Everton fans there as there were for the home side with Wimbledon only managing to flog more tickets when the really big teams rolled into town.
Attendances over the course of the campaign averaged around the 8-9,000 people mark and Neil Ardley, now the manager of AFC Wimbledon, remembers the match fondly.
Ardley, who was 21 at the time, said: “I remember looking at the opposite side of the pitch to the dugouts, it was literally one man and his dog.
“We used to laugh because the only times we sold out Selhurst Park was when we played the big clubs. There would be 8,000 Wimbledon fans and 18,000 supporting Man United.”
Wimbledon dominate this list having seen the 10 lowest crowds in the Premier League but other clubs have run them close over the years.
8,923 – Chelsea v Coventry, May 4, 1994
Chelsea haven’t always been one of the superpowers of European football and before the Abramovich era, times were quite hard at Stamford Bridge in the early days of the Premier League.
With a capacity of around 36,000, the west London venue wasn’t the smallest in the English top flight but the Blues regularly struggled to fill the ground.
An average attendance of 18,787 in the 1992-93 season was an improvement at the time when the club was often stuck in the old second division.
Things improved with the start of the Premier League but a lack of success in the 1993-94 campaign saw just under 9,000 people turn up to watch Chelsea lose 2-1 at home to Coventry with the season drawing to a close.
Not long after, the cash was being splashed by the Blues’ new billionaire owner to see Chelsea grow into the European giant they are today.
9,028 – Southampton v Ipswich, December 8, 1993
The Dell was renowned for being a small ground with a capacity of around 15,200 when Southampton’s old home was closed for the final time in May 2001.
Saints regularly struggled to fill their south coast home unless one of the big boys were in town and as they were often battling in the lower depths of the top flight, attendances dwindled accordingly and averaged just under the 15,000 mark.
A particular low point came in 1993 when Ipswich pitched up at Southampton to nick a 1-0 win, although there were several gates that season around the 9-10,000 mark.
9,526 – Coventry v Ipswich, October 10, 1994
Coventry spent almost 10 years in the Premier League following its inception but despite hanging around in mid-table for several seasons, crowds weren’t always as big as expected at Highfield Road.
A 23,489 all-seater stadium by the time it closed in 2005, Coventry’s home rarely saw a full house for a top-flight match.
Things improved as time went on but the 1994-95 season was a particular struggle with league attendances weighing in at an average of 15,980.
A high of just over 25,000 welcomed Tottenham to the Midlands on New Year’s Eve but a low point was reached when just 9,526 strolled up for the visit of Ipswich.
Those who did turn up were handsomely rewarded with a 2-0 victory for the home side courtesy of a Paul Cook strike and a John Wark own goal.
9,982 – Oldham v Southampton, February 5, 1994
Oldham Athletic spent two years in the Premier League when the competition first started but a miserable 1993-94 campaign saw them relegated along with Swindon and Sheffield United.
Athletic were somewhat unlucky as they hit the magical 40-point mark but it was a constant struggle, particularly at their Boundary Park home where they won just five matches.
Attendances dwindled as performances dipped and the season ended with Oldham averaging just over 12,500 fans for their home fixtures, with the lowest being this visit from Southampton, although those in attendance did see the Latics run out 2-1 winners.