FRANCISTOWN: Attendance at this year’s Mascom Top 8 semi finals fell from 15,101 to 11,267, which is a drop of 26%. The Top 8 excitement usually reaches fever pitch from the semifinal stage, as there are mouth-watering clashes.
It is anticipated that the latter stages of the tournament would draw huge crowds.
However, this season, there was a drop in attendance. Township Rollers and Gaborone United (GU), amongst the best supported sides, failed to attract significant numbers when they met during the semifinal.
Figures show that the total tickets for all the semifinal matches stood at 15, 101 in the 2017/2018 edition. For the 2018/19 showpiece there was a reduction in the number of spectators during the semifinals. The overall figure of spectators for all semifinal matches stood at 11, 267, representing a 26% decline from the previous edition. There are concerns that the organising committee has failed to introduce new initiatives to attract fans as well as to reward them for their affinity for the competition.
Some critics also believe that there is need to improve the hype for the games in a bid to encourage supporters to attend the games.
The organisers usually run activations that encompass selling merchandise and giveaways as a way of attracting more supporters, but there is a feeling more can be done.
Botswana Premier League chief executive officer, Thabo Ntshinogang did not entirely agree that the Mascom Top 8 has attracted a low turnout owing to lack of incentives for the supporter or lack of hype around the competition.
He said in many instances the type of teams that are in the competition has influenced the low turnout in some games.
“Sometimes the teams that go far in the competition are those that do not enjoy a large following, which is why there is a relatively low turnout for some matches. At times form (of the participating teams) can also determine the number of supporters who attend the game,” he said, further highlighting that teams that made it to the semifinal this season do not command a huge following, with the exception of Rollers and GU.
However, Ntshinogang acknowledged that the low turnout in some games is a wake up call.
“One of the incentives we have often used to attract supporters to the stadium is the reduction of ticket prices. We review our strategy with regards to incentives offered to supporters on a yearly basis. We will continue reviewing our strategy and if there is need to revise our incentives, we will do so,” said Ntshinogang.
Prices for this year’s competition have been lowered and there is also a discount for fans who purchase tickets in advance.
Attendance is expected to pick significantly for the final, which has never disappointed, particularly in Francistown. GU meet Jwaneng Galaxy on March 9, in what is expected to be a thrilling affair. But despite the poor attendance, particularly in the second leg, the competition dished out the best of local football.