The Huddersfield Giants have a long, proud history, so why are they struggling to get the crowds a club of their stature deserves?
Historically speaking, there’s no denying the Giants are one of the biggest names in rugby league. With seven Championships and six Challenge Cups, they’re also one of the most successful.
Unfortunately for the club, nowadays they are known as little more than a sleeping giant. And nowhere is this reflected so clearly, than in the stands.
Last season, the Claret and Gold averaged just 5,422 fans per game at John Smith’s Stadium. In some respects this shouldn’t be a surprise, given their struggles at the wrong end of the table during 2016.
However, keep in mind it wasn’t much better back in 2013, when the Giants won the League Leader’s Shield. Despite finishing top for the first time in 81 years, the average attendance was still only 6,374.
It’s been eight short years since Huddersfield smashed their Super League average attendance record. At the time, they broke through the 100,000 aggregate attendance record for the first time, finishing with an average of 7,846 fans per game.
Here’s the thing though – even that’s not enough, not for a club the size of the Giants. In recent year, chairman Ken Davy has even questioned Huddersfield’s desire to have a successful rugby league side.
So what’s the problem? A major part of it purely comes down to money.
These are hard times for people. As such, sports will always be one of the first things to be sacrificed, when it comes to keeping your family afloat.
Huddersfield hasn’t help themselves, by maybe being — shall we say — a little bit too ambitious with raising ticket prices in recent years. In fairness though, they are now doing their best to rectify this situation.
In 2017, fans will be able to watch all 11 home games and any subsequent play-off games for between £99-£119. Certainly, these are extremely competitive prices to watch top level rugby league, at a world class stadium.
The club are also weary of maintaining and growing their support among younger fans. Those under 16 can watch all home and away games and receive a replica shirt for £50, while all under 5s are free.
However, it will take more than this to boost the attendances. As such, Davy has made the controversial decision to move home games to Friday nights.
The 75-year old knows some fans will be unhappy with switching from a Sunday, but it has been done with good reason. Using the attendance figures from 2016, it became apparent that more supporters showed up on average for Friday night games, compared to those played on Sundays.
Davy is desperate to see the Giants reach an average of 10,000 fans per game while he’s still around. In fact, he believes it’s imperative, to help the club return to and maintain contender status.
The Filey, Yorkshire native has been in charge of the club for 20 years now. He’s previously admitted it’s been a longer and harder journey than he anticipated.
Overall, Davy and the club cannot be faulted for their efforts to turn things around and boost attendances. Whether it’s enough to succeed remains to be seen, but it will play a crucial role in awakening the slumbering giant that resides in West Yorkshire.
Photo credit: http://www.undertheposts.com
Why do you think the Giants struggle to draw more fans to their games? Do you think the move to Friday night will help? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.