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Attendance numbers at the Spotify Camp Nou during the early games of the 2022/23 season are looking really positive for the Club. The stadium's seats are filling again after the 2021/22 season, when numbers fell due to COVID-19 restricted capacity, fewer tourists visiting, season tickets being deferred, and the Seient Lliure (free your seat) initiative being suspended. The departure of Leo Messi and the team's irregular form were also a factor.
Attendances up 19% on average
Last season's average attendance was 55,026, with the highest of 86,422 being the sold out Clásico against Real Madrid on 2 October 2021. Camp Nou saw a 28% drop in attendances compared to season prior to COVID-19, when average attendances were 76,747.
As circumstances have changed, you have to go back to the first four competitive games in the pre-pandemic 2018/19 season for a more realistic comparison and to draw conclusions. That season saw a total attendance of 274,765 from three LaLiga games and one Champions League game. Coached by Ernesto Valverde at the time, Barça played Alavés (52,356), Huesca (72.892) and Girona (76,055), while 73,462 watched the first game of the premier European club competition against PSV Eindhoven - an average of 68,691 spectators per game.
Comparatively speaking, the attendance figures for the Barça's first four games under Xavi this season have been 81,104 against Rayo Vallecano, 83,972 against Valladolid, 85,073 in the latest LaLiga game against Elche, with 77,411 at the first Champions League match of the season against Viktoria Plsen. Total attendance across the four games was 327,560, an average of 81,890 per game, representing a 19% increase (an average of a 13,199 spectators more each game).
Ticket sales up 46%
These good figures confirm both the appeal of Xavi’s 2022/23 version of Barça and the effectiveness of new sales strategies - with a policy including promotions and discounts of up to 50% on the total price to make it more affordable for residents (of Catalonia) and non-season ticket holder members - and the online content and marketing campaigns.
The policy’s success also comes from the commitment to help non-season ticket holder members attend. Extending the exclusive early purchase period for this group from 24 to 72 hours is part of this initiative. For most games this season, the Club will reserve groups of seats at fixed affordable prices for those members. The discount is 50% on the total price and they are not subject to demand-based price variation during the sales process, as occurs with other tickets.
Revenue also up 18%
Average revenue from the first three LaLiga games is up 18% on the 2018/19 season, and by 9% when including the Champions League game. Although reducing ticket prices is a factor, this sales policy focused on bringing more fans to Spotify Camp Nou has managed to increase revenue compared 2018/19, which the club started as LaLiga champions with Leo Messi still in the team, and when tourism levels were much higher.
Looking back to the Joan Gamper Trophy, played at the Spotify Camp Nou on 7 August against Pumas, revenue was up 4% on the pre-pandemic season when Boca Juniors were the visitors. Not included in the season ticket, attendance at this year’s Gamper was 83,021, the majority of which were local fans, with prices cheaper than in the 2018/19 season Gamper trophy, which was watched by 56,826.
Season ticket holder attendance up 9% and no-shows down 37%
Season ticket holder attendance is also up 9% on average (an additional 3,030 people per game), with no-shows and seats not released for Seient Lliure (Free Your Seat) use dropping by 37%. This is one of the conclusions to be drawn when comparing the first four competitive games of this season - three in LaLiga and one in the Champions League - to the 2018/19 season, the last before COVID-19.
The excitement created by the new signings and the start to the season by Xavi Hernández’ team is undoubtedly a contributing factor to good attendance figures, but the good response from season ticket holders to this season’s new policy of promoting season ticket use has also played a key role, either by attending games or releasing them for Seient Lliure use. This policy has also helped Seient Lliure use rise by 9%, meaning an average of an extra 2,600 seats are available per game compared to the 2018/19 season.
The 2018/19 season saw no-shows or non-releases by 28,658 season ticket holders at the first LaLiga game against Alavés, 21,611 against Huesca and 18,487 against Girona, while this season saw 18,173 (-37%) against Rayo Vallecano, 13,820 (-36%) against Valladolid and 11,395 (-38%) against Elche. This results in a 37% reduction (an average of 8,456 across the first three LaLiga games), with the same percentage drop (37%) at the Champions League game - 20,516 season ticket holders neither showed up nor released their ticket for the game against PSV Eindhoven in the 2018/19 season compared to 12,945 for Viktoria Pilsen this season. Despite these good figures, the Club feels there is still room for improvement as members become more familiar with the policies implemented to promote better season ticket use.
The Board of Directors’ meeting on June 21 saw the agreement to apply a set of measures to boost attendance at the Spotify Camp Nou, while also preventing fraud and potential repeats of the circumstances when Eintracht Frankfurt visited in the Europa League. As such, season ticket holders can qualify for special benefits (discounts on ticket prices for companions, discounts on the use of food outlets, draws for jerseys...) if they attend 85% of the games. On the other hand, when a seat has neither been used, transferred, nor released for 10 games during the season, the Club will apply Seient Lliure Inverso (Free Your Seat in reverse) after prior notification. This will see the seat offered directly for sale if it hasn’t been allocated for use by 72 hours before the game. Should a seat be neither used, transferred, nor released for the entire season, the season ticket holder in question will lose that status for the 2023/24 season.
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