Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Arema Support A Cause For Concern
Arema fans are again under the microscope after their team's average attendance has dropped below the 10,000 mark. Their six home games, four at Kanjaruhan Stadium and two at Gajayana Stadium have seen an average of just 9,257 attending. Compare that with the Indonesia Super League title winning campaign of 2009/10 when they averaged 27,860 or the following season when they pulled in 20,215.
There were doubts raised last season when the club were in contention for the ISC but no real answer was found.
This season and the club are scrambling for excuses as to why the Arema fans are staying away. One official blames TV and the weather. 'Many Arema home games are broadcast live on TV,' said one official. 'In addition games are played in the evening and the weather in Malang is extremely cold (ekstrem dingin).' He added there were many new players at the club who were not well known by the fans. He didn't explain why the club had done little to introduce the new faces to the support base.
Fans have their own viewpoint of course. 'It is not a question of loyalty or not being loyal to the team,' says one. 'If the number of fans has fallen the management must improve things and the team must be more consistent.' "Cos football is that easy.
Arema are sixth in the table, unbeaten at home and didn't they start the campaign on top before falling away in recent weeks? Their largest crowd of the season is less than 15,000 against Madura United. Other fans have whined about their team's inconsistency, Persib and Persija spring to mind, yet they have still come out in numbers to their home games, both averaging 20,000 plus. Even clubs like Bali United and Persela, lacking Arema's fan base and traditions, are drawing larger crowds.
Arema have scored just nine goals all season, only relegation candidates Perseru and Gresik United have scored less. But that is also the same as Persib and the fans still go to their games.
Thai fans may look at Arema's attendances and wonder what they fuss is. Only Buriram United and Muang Thong United get bigger home gates. Four Malaysian teams are currently pulling bigger crowds than Arema. I don't have the stats for Liga 2 in Indonesia but I think it's fair to say PSS and Persebaya at least average bigger crowds than Arema.
Many, including me, like to think Arema have the potential to be one of the biggest club names in South East Asia, not just Indonesia. But that won't happen all the while they are pulling such meagre crowds and people are blaming the weather. The football club need to be sitting down with the supporters and ask why they are staying away.