AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: The eleventh edition of the Hero I-League has been nothing short of spectacular. With the rise of underdogs and pulsating matches seeing a shift of power from the traditional power-horses, the Hero I-League has provided all form of entertainment from goal-fest action to last-minute drama. Now with the League entering its final round, the stage is set for the epic showdown as three teams vie for the title.
But what is a showdown without fans? What is a league without spectators? And what is football without anyone to savour the moments?
The drama and excitement of the eleventh edition of the Hero I-League has captivated the people so much so that there has been a 58% increase in in-stadia attendance – the average attendance rising from 6,500 spectators in a match (last edition) to 10,210 fans in a match.
Mr. Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation expressed his delight on the rise in in-stadia attendance, “It’s always delightful to watch supporters thronging the stadium in support of their favourite teams and supporters are an integral part in the football ecosystem.”
“The positive slope of the curve depicts the positive intent of the supporters who are keenly following the Hero I-League”, he added.
“Hero I-League’s unpredictability and competitiveness this season are two vital aspects which kept the fans glued to it and the rise in in-stadia attendance shows that Indian Football has hit the right with the fans.”
Speaking on the significant rise, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said: “The Hero I-League has always been a harbinger of football in India and the stadium attendances prove what we have been able to accomplish.”
“The craze of the fans is ever growing and with more people flocking to the stadiums, the football frenzy is bound to increase ten-fold,” he added.
The footballing hotbeds of India have never shied away from thronging the stadium and NEROCA from the state of Manipur saw a mammoth average attendance of 24,494 while 35,285 was their record attendance in a single match.
They are being closely followed behind by Kingfisher East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, whose average attendances have been 16,312 and 15,936 respectively.
Not to forget the Kolkata derby was witnessed by over 100,000 people in the stadium over the course of two legs – the first leg being attended by 64,360 people while the return-leg was attended by 52,951 supporters in the stands.
Taking football to every nook and cranny, Hero I-League 2017-18 saw an average attendance of 9,201 in Gokulam Kerala FC’s matches and an average attendance of 8,938 in Chennai City FC’s.