The Burrito Wrap

Empty Stadium Picture
It’s Monday and ‘The Burrito Wrap’ is back with another warm tortilla stuffed full of the week’s talking points.

This week we take an in-depth look at Liga MX’s attendances, before touching on El Tri’s squad and concluding with a word about football kits.

Empty Stadia Spoil the Spectacle...

I was watching the Queretaro vs Santos game on Friday evening and was stuck by how poor the attendance was. For a side that were top of the table a week ago, the ability to only be able to draw just over 9,000 fans for a home game against Santos is worrying.

Why are Liga MX attendances so poor?

1. Stadium safety is putting people off.

As I touched on last week, the images from Cruz Azul and San Luis are off-putting to families who want to watch the match without the worry of being caught in something unpleasant. It’s not only fan violence, of course. In 2011 we saw the abandonment of Santos vs Morelia when a gun battle between rival drug gangs erupted just outside the stadium. Imagine how much worse that incident could have been had it occurred just after the final whistle with fans piling onto the surrounding streets…

We saw similar problems in the UK during the hooligan years of the 70s and 80s, with regular carnage inside the stadiums, huge organised fights between rival fans in surrounding parks and a complete lack of police control throughout. It wasn’t until the introduction of all-seater stadiums and a heavy police presence both inside and outside the grounds that attendances sky-rocketed and the Premier League became a truly global brand. Liga MX would do well to learn from England’s lessons.

2. Fixed kick-off times preclude many.

Queretaro kick off their home games on Friday evenings at 7.30pm and both Chivas and Atlante play on Sunday evenings. These are times when many fans have either just finished their working week or are winding down their weekends and preparing themselves for a return to work on Monday morning.

The idea of regularly making a trip to the stadium in Friday’s rush-hour traffic or returning home late into the evening on a Sunday is surely unappealing for all but the most die-hard supporter.

Clearly, the TV networks are ruling supreme. Of course there is logic to wanting to maximise the exposure of a product for which they have paid a lot of money, but is it really beyond their capabilities to rotate kick-off times and still avoid clashes?

3. Prices are prohibitive

The rich northern city of Monterrey may have enough middle-class residents to fill the stadiums of Tigres and Rayados regardless of the prices charged, but at the other end of the scale, Atlante and Chiapas, who play their football in two of Mexico’s poorest regions, are also two of the teams with the worst attendances.

Atlante sell season tickets for $300 MXN, yet played a Yucatan Peninsula derby against local rivals Merida in the Copa MX on Wednesday and attracted a mere 4,010 spectators. Chiapas fare slightly better due to their longevity in Tuxtla, but still regularly see attendances well below half capacity.

More has to be done by the clubs to provide their true supporter base with access to the stadiums.

What does it matter?

All this results in more fans watching the match from their comfort of their own home and becoming progressively more unwilling to spend money on actually going to a game. On the face of it, the clubs seem apathetic, it doesn’t really hurt their revenue - they get their money from the lucrative TV contracts and sponsorship deals

Yet, as any neutral who watched Cruz Azul’s opener against Santos will testify, it is the atmosphere, not the size of the latest sponsorship payment, that make football matches special. The game in Estadio Azul felt hollow and lifeless, despite being a good battle between two of the league’s stronger sides.

Ultimately being a supporter is about shared experience of the highs and the lows, and without the sharing, the game can lose meaning. The Liga MX has to address the poor attendances, not for the money, but for the spectacle.

El Tri's Brave New World…

Like most onlookers, I was impressed with Herrera’s squad for this week’s friendly against South Korea.

As my Twitter followers will know, I think Alan Pulido is the best natural finisher in the league, and whilst some of his overall play still needs work, there is no one more adept at putting the ball in the net. He deserved his call up. It was also good to see Salcido omitted – he has been abysmal for Tigres since last summer and in no way warrants a place in the squad on present form.

I do think Raul Jimenez should have a place in the squad, surely he and Pulido are the Mexican attack of the future, and even if neither starts in the World Cup, they should be in the squad to take advantage of time together and help build their understanding.

Nonetheless, I think the inclusion of three potential debutants and omission of some of the old guard reflects well on Piojo and bodes well for Mexico’s chances in Brazil this summer.

Kit Chaos = Confusion…

A brief note on teams’ choice of kits recently. In the last two jornadas we’ve seen America play in blue at the Azteca, Cruz Azul play in red at the Estadio Azul, and Pumas wear their away kit of white and gold at the Estadio Universitario, which came incredibly close to clashing with the home sides yellow strip, especially on TV.

I am at a loss to explain the reasons, so I’ll let you try…

By Daniel Price

To continue the debate you can add a comment below or find me on Twitter by following @MexFooty

** the photo is used under a Creative Commons license from bobthebritt



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