Please note that the Japanese names in these posts are written in Japanese order, i.e. Family Name followed by Given Name

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

2014 Spectator Survey

On January 19th the Nadeshiko League's spectator survey for 2014 (なでしこリーグ スタジアム観戦者調査2014サマリーレポート) was published, with a correction made in a later release (March 6th).

The spectators at ten matches, one home match for each team, were approached. The surveys completed by those who were not supporters of the home side were discarded. All respondents were over twelve years of age.

The table below lists the ten matches, noting the home team, away team, the total attendance at the match, the number of those surveyed and the total number of surveys analysed.


Home Away Attendance Interviewees No. Analysed
Vegalta Beleza 2860 291 266
Urawa JEF 1774 145 123
JEF Niigata 978 165 118
Beleza Urawa 2463 278 157
Niigata INAC 1209 194 153
Iga Beleza 580 148 123
Saitama INAC 1887 248 131
INAC JEF 2909 288 255
Belle Urawa 2348 283 262
Kibi Beleza 590 187 118


The total number surveyed was therefore 1,706.
The figures used here for the men's J-League come from the corresponding survey from 2014. However, the Nadeshiko League's survey uses figures from the J-League's 2013 season. In the tables and graphs below the 2014 figures have been used.

The figures for the J-League are as follows:
For the Male/Female ratio question: 15,079
The number of respondents for the "With whom did you watch the match?" question was 14,987.


Ratio of Male to Female Spectators at Nadeshiko League games



The proportion of female spectators is again disappointingly low at 28.3%, slightly down from 2013 and some way below the 2012 figure of 35.7% (1,321 respondents at five games).

In terms of women spectators, Okayama Yunogo Belle led the way as they did in 2013, with a figure of 41.7%, the only percentage higher than the J-League average.


The Male/Female ratios for those clubs which have both
J-League and Nadeshiko League teams



The proportion of female spectators at the home matches of teams associated with J-League teams is once again noticably poor, though Urawa Red Diamonds' figures have shown a slight improvement. The biggest drop by far is that of Albirex Niigata Ladies: from a figure of 28% in 2013, their percentage of female spectators dropped to 17.8%. JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies did best in this regard, jumping from 22.7% in 2013 to 29.9% in 2014. Tokyo Verdy/Nippon TV Beleza were again the only team with a higher percentage of female supporters at their women's games. As was mentioned last year, this is most probably due to Tokyo Verdy having a lower than average number of women supporters.Furthermore, over the years Beleza has largely become less identified with its parent club.


"With whom are you watching the match?"
- multiple responses were possible


The data for the table above is presented below:

FamilyFriendsBy OneselfOther
Iga FC Kunoichi44.5%14.3%37.8%7.6%
Okayama Yunogo Belle53.9%20.5%26%1.2%
FC Kibikokusaidaigaku Charme50%25%24.1%2.6%
INAC Kobe Leonessa36.1%21.2%42.7%2.7%
AS Elfen Saitama39.5%19.4%38.7%2.4%
Albirex Niigata Ladies36.2%18.8%44.3%1.3%
Nippon TV Beleza30.5%33.1%35.1%3.2%
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies33.1%20.3%47.5%3.4%
Vegalta Sendai Ladies40.5%19.8%39.7%1.2%
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies21.3%34.3%42.6%3.3%
J-League average52.9%34.1%16.4%3%
Nadeshiko League average39.5%22.3%37.5%2.6%


As can be readily seen above, the proportion of people who watch Nadeshiko League games by themselves is more than twice that of J-League games.

At Iga, the number of people who watched the games in family groups dropped from 60% to 44.5%, with a corresponding increase from 30% to 37.8% of those who watch alone.

Kibi's figures for groups of friends and families both saw a good increase, while for INAC Kobe the numbers were reversed: they saw an increase in the number of spectators who went alone, from 29.5% to 42.7%. Their Family percentage dropped from 45.2% to 36.1%. Urawa saw the biggest increase in groups of friends, with a corresponding drop in the number attending by themselves (an increase of 10.3% in the former, a drop of 8.8% in the latter).


Factors in the composition of the support base

The location of each team naturally has a large influence on their supporters' demographic. For instance, in largely rural Okayama, Belle have the oldest supporters, with an average age of fifty-three. Belle's supporters are also the most likely to be unemployed (20.7%, league average 10.3%) and Kibi's supporters are also among the oldest (49.5 years of age, league average 47.6) and are the most likely to be married (74.3%, league average 60.7%). Belle (21.7%) and Kibi (24.3%) supporters are also those who have the least money for leisure activities.

These figures are largely reversed in Kanto. Urawa have the youngest supporters (43.8 years of age), followed by JEF United (45.4). Beleza and JEF United have the fewest unemployed supporters, and Beleza also have the most single supporters (52.7%) with Urawa second (50.4%). Urawa supporters have the most disposable income followed by those of Beleza.

Some teams have a far greater level of involvement with their local community than others, especially those in less developed areas.

62.5% of Belle's respondents said that they feel that the team makes a large contribution to Mimasaka City, with a further 32% feeling that they make some contribution. Kibi's figures are 50% and 40.2% respectively. Furthermore, 80.7% of Kibi's supporters said that they one reason were attending the game was because of this contribution to society. Vegalta Sendai were second with 78.3% and Belle were third with 74.6%. At the opposite end were Beleza with 35.1% and Urawa with 44.2%. The average was 63.2%.

In terms of the media and how supporters are informed about their team, local newspapers are still important for the smaller cities' teams - Vegalta Sendai (47.1%), Belle (46.3%), Niigata (44.2%) and Kibi (32.2%). The figures for the Kanto teams are much lower - 4.3% for JEF United, 4.7% for Saitama, 5% for Urawa and 8.3% for Beleza. Figures for local television coverage are similar to those for newspapers: 46% of Sendai supporters get information from local television, with figures of 32.8% for Belle, 25.2% for Niigata and 16.5% for Kibi. In Kanto, the percentages are 15% for Urawa, 12.2% for Beleza, 3.4% for JEF United and 2.3% for Saitama.

Sendai and Niigata are not particularly big cities, but they are the biggest in their geographic areas and have a more defined hometown feel to their teams; Urawa, Beleza, JEF United and Saitama are concentrated in a much smaller area in by far the most populous region of Japan. 94.2% of Niigata's supporters live in Niigata Prefecture, 90.7% of Sendai's supporters live within Miyagi. The Kanto teams have lower numbers: Saitama (78.1%). Urawa (62.4%), JEF United (73.2%), Beleza (57.6%). Iga have the lowest number with 55.9%.

Of the five J.League clubs, JEF United is the most active in trying to attract children to their games and to make them feel welcome. The players give the children presents, play janken with them, organise meet and greet sessions exclusively for the children and so on. This is reflected in the survey. The family groups surveyed at all ten matches were asked to indicate who among them wanted to attend the game most. The supporters of JEF United had the highest figure for children, at 31.4% (INAC Kobe were second with 23%, Saitama third with 19.6%). The four remaining J.League clubs were well behind - Vegalta 13.7%, Niigata 13.7%, Beleza 15.2% and Urawa 15.4%. Kibi were the lowest of all teams, with 5.4%. JEF United also had the highest percentage of supporters with children playing football themselves, at 52.8%, though there is no additional data to suggest whether the this is a factor in their attending.


At a typhoon-delayed game, all of the children in attendance were invited
to join the JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies team on the field

Of the five J.League clubs, it is only the fans of Beleza who have little interest in their men's team (24.1%), and indeed more of them support other J.League teams (36.2%). Interest in men's football is lower for the non-J.League clubs.

For how many years have you supported this club?



Vegalta Sendai took over from TEPCO Mareeze before the start of the 2012 season, hence the large proportion of supporters in their third year. The other J.League teams have the most long-term supporters, especially Urawa. The figures for Kibi also reflect their recent entry into the league and promotion in 2012, and Saitama saw a large number of newcomers last year, which was likely also prompted by their promotion back to the top division in 2013.

Belle and INAC saw an large increase in 2011 and 2012 with international success the likely driver, though the number of new supporters has dwindled and INAC's home attendances in particular have dropped each season since 2012.

The league organisers announced in November 2014 that they expect attendance figures of at least 1,000 at every game in the top division in 2015, with an overall average of at least 2,000. It is hoped that this figure is at least 3,000 after 2016. The higest average attendance in the league was 2,796 in 2011, with very high attendances after the World Cup in Germany, though they fell dramatically towards the end of the season.

An average of 2,000 in 2015 is therefore possible, with the World Cup in Canada to come this summer, though it will likely depend on some very high attendances to pull the average up. An average of 3,000 in any season seems ambitious.

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