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AFL crowds fall to lowest in 26 years as Covid concerns linger

Attendances averaging 30,517 for ongoing 2022 campaign.

25 May 2022 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • Digital ticket issues, cost of going to games, scheduling, and uninspiring play also blamed for slump
  • 2022 figure well below pre-pandemic average of 35.1k in 2019

Crowds for the Australian Football League (AFL) in 2022 have fallen to their lowest in 26 years, excluding the past two Covid-affected seasons.

The average attendance for 2022 after 90 matches is 30,517, the smallest since 1996 when an average 29,637 went to games, according to AFL Tables. This year’s figure is also well below the 2019 pre-pandemic average of 35,122 across the full season.

A number of issues have been cited for the downturn, including lingering Covid-19 concerns, digital ticket issues, the cost of going to games, scheduling, and uninspiring play.

The Age noted earlier this week that daily new Covid cases in Victoria had not dropped below 7,500 in the past 28 days, while Western Australia and South Australia have experienced their highest case numbers in 2022.

Perth’s Optus Stadium also operated at reduced capacity through the first seven rounds of the 2022 AFL season. Kardinia Park in Victoria remains at reduced capacity due to ongoing redevelopment.

The figures are in stark contrast to round one of the current campaign, which averaged crowds of 40,321 across the nine games. Round three drew an average of 35,777, while round five saw an average 31,701 attend matches.

Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are the only AFL teams averaging higher home-and-away attendances in 2022 compared with 2019. That figure factors in the 58,002 who attended the season-opener between the two clubs.

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