Last night’s defeat to Hull City gave us our first opportunity to compare like-for-like attendances this season and see what effect a summer of discontent has had on our gate numbers.

Since promotion from League One, every Elland Road fixture between Leeds United and Hull City has been played on a Tuesday night, early in the calendar and in a congested run of fixtures. With the variable nature of the fixture list, the circumstances for comparison couldn’t be more similar.

The numbers show a clear and undeniable trend in falling attendances, impossible to dismiss by the usual excuses of ticket prices (they were cheaper this season than last), schedule (first half of season and same day) and fixture congestion (this game came at the end of three home fixtures in seven days last season).

  • 2010/11 – 24,986 (Tuesday, November 9th 2010)
  • 2011/12 – 22,363 (Tuesday, August 16th 2011)
  • 2012/13 – 19,750 (Tuesday, September 18th 2012)

The evidence shows that in less than two years, Leeds United have “lost” more than 5,000 fans. Assuming an average ticket price of £25, that’s £125,000 lost on this game alone. If that trend continues throughout the season, Leeds United will be down almost £3m on 2010/11’s gate receipts.

Falling attendances is something we’ve covered numerous times before, but it’s a worrying trend that most fans would blame on Ken Bates’ controversial reign as Leeds United chairman. Talk of boycotting games has been a common theme on internet messageboards and social networks over the last couple of years, and the figures suggest plenty of fans have followed through with their threats.

With the majority of Leeds United’s income coming from gate receipts, and accounts that show the club is only profitable due to player sales, you have to question how sustainable Ken Bates’ reign is? Despite lower ticket prices for the Hull City fixture this season, the trend of falling attendances would appear to be irreversible while ever Bates remains chairman of Leeds United Football Club.