Russian Football Attendance Numbers Signal Trouble

Russian Football Attendance Numbers Signal Trouble

The Russian sports paper Sovetskii Sport has published this season’s Russian football attendance numbers. The top ten includes nine Russian Football Premier League clubs as well as the Football National League side Fakel Voronezh.

Spartak Moscow, which moved into a new stadium a season ago, are first in the rankings with an average attendance of 26,879—the top three also includes Zenit Saint Petersburg (16,686), and Terek Grozny (16,029). Hence, despite its poor results, Spartak easily remains the most popular club in Moscow, but it remains to be seen whether Spartak will be able to stay on top of the attendance table after the new Zenit Arena is completed in June.

Attendance numbers - Image via

Attendance numbers – Image via

Currently, Zenit play in the Petrovsky Stadium, which seats 21,405 people. The new stadium that is being built on the Krestovsky Arena—where it replaces the old Kirov Stadium—will seat 68,000 spectators, and even though Zenit will have a tough time selling out the stadium on a regular basis, attendance in the coming seasons should still surpass that of Spartak Moscow.

Also notable, is the low attendance of league leaders CSKA Moscow. Despite, once again, being a title contender, CSKA are only able to draw an average attendance of 8,840, which puts them in the same category as Lokomotiv Moscow (8,707). Yet while Lokomotiv has been struggling with an attendance crisis in one of Russia’s most modern facilities, CSKA numbers can be explained by the fact that the club is playing in Khimki, which is located outside the city, and can be complicated to reach.

CSKA fans hope that the new stadium, which opens next year when it hosts the Russian Super Cup, will increase attendance significantly. Indeed the new CSKA Moscow is an architectural marvel, and its location on Peschanaya Ulitsa means it will be much more accessible than the Khimki Arena.

Both Krylia Sovetov Samara (14,285) and Rostov (12,255) have made the top five, which is good news for the organizers of the Russia 2018 World Cup, as both Samara and Rostov have been selected as host cities. Furthermore, Rostov are in deep financial trouble, and even though the club are currently in second place in the league (for betting on Russian football find more information at, it remains to be seen whether the club can survive financially. It is also questionable whether either club can fill their newly built World Cup stadiums on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, other World Cup cities such as Saransk, and Kaliningrad are struggling with attendance numbers. Although Mordovia Saransk’s average attendance is 5,186 this season, the city is building a brand new World Cup stadium with 45,000 seats, and it highly doubtful whether the club can fill such a stadium. The same is true for Russia’s World Cup problem child Kaliningrad, as the city’s FNL club Baltika currently averages only 4,573 per game. Other World Cup cities such as Yekaterinburg, (here Ural has an average attendance of 5,941), and Volgograd, (which is not even on the list as the city is currently without professional football), face struggles with attendance numbers.

With these statistics in mind it becomes even more difficult to imagine why officials kept Krasnodar off the list, as both of Krasnodar’s teams made the top ten—FC Krasnodar are sixth with an average attendance of 12,222, and Kuban are tenth with an average attendance of 9,733.

Perhaps the organizers are hoping that the World Cup will see an increase in Russian football attendance numbers. While this is difficult to fathom for cities such as Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd or Yekaterinburg, the big clubs in Russia could, at least temporarily, enjoy an attendance spike after the new stadiums are finished.

By Manuel Veth –


  • comment-avatar
    Saul 8 years

    CSKA and Dynamo attendances have been generally poor in the post-Soviet era (historically CSKA have struggled to get 10k, and in their darkest hours Dinamo have been down to 2 or 3k) – so being either in Moscow or in Khimki might be a moot point. However, I think the new stadiums will attract new fans, for whom comfort and safety are important.

    Samara and Rostov and most definite football cities, unlike Moscow, so good attendances there have been the norm. But it’s also good to see relatively high figures at up-and-coming Fakel, not so long ago a top flight side, and at third tier Tekstilshik – their attendances compete with some third tier English sides…

  • comment-avatar
    Frederick 8 years

    I think you should also take into account that Russian ligues and clubs don’t seem to care as much about poor attendances as English or Geman leagues do because spectators are not responsible for a big share in their income or budget. When you buy a season ticket in other countries you now when and where you can watch which game, the calendar is clear and they stick to it, whereas in Russia games can be postponed or moved to another arena. Take for instance the new arena in Kazan. Rubin played a couple of games there before they had to move to another stadium due to Swimming championships. Can you imagine Bayern München not playing in the Allianz Arena because there is a hockey champinship? Or take league games on a Monday. If you already have poor attendances , you should not put games on a working day at 18 o’clock, but again here , television seems more important than getting people in the stadium

  • comment-avatar
    stuart 8 years

    Err… why on Earth would any teams have just been left out, never mind two teams in the top 10?

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