Supporters are top of the league

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City fans are top of the league when it comes to packing them in at home games - and new boss Peter Grant says he will do everything to keep them there.

CHRIS LAKEY

Norwich City fans are top of the league when it comes to packing them in at home games - and new boss Peter Grant says he will do everything to keep them there.

An average of 24,627 fans pack into Carrow Road for every home game - a staggering 96.5pc of the ground's capacity.

That's way above nearest challengers Luton, who stand at 88.1pc, followed by Championship leaders Cardiff and then bottom club Southend, whose promotion last season has clearly captured the Essex public's imagination.


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But it's the Carrow Road figures which are most impressive, given that fortunes at the club have hardly been great since the Championship-winning season. And Grant has promised to deliver the attractive football he feels such support deserves.

“People ask why I left West Ham and the Premiership to come here and I said there was one reason - and what I have seen here doesn't surprise me,” said Grant yesterday.

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“The fans were very, very passionate when I was here as a player. They were in smaller numbers then because we never excited them. That's why I am trying to keep the excitement levels here.

“Our support is fantastic, phenomenal,” added Grant, whose home debut against Cardiff on Saturday attracted a season-high crowd of 25,014. “And we appreciate it. We go to Port Vale on a cold Tuesday evening and it's wet and cold. But our fans were there behind the goal and stayed there right to the final whistle and after.

“I've played at the likes of Stockport on cold Wednesday evenings and I remember the support even then and it has always stuck with me. Not many teams can say that. It is a city that is very passionate about its football and they love their football club -hopefully we can give them something they can be proud of.”

Grant has been true to his word in his first two league games - both wins - and has the city buzzing again, but while the club's fortune are, for now, on the up, it's a very different story around the rest of the Championship grounds.

While City fans still flock to games, whatever the team's position, many of the bigger stadiums have swathes of empty seats - with 20 of the 24 teams in the Championship playing at grounds which are less than three-quarters full for home matches.

Of the teams recently relegated from the top flight, it's City who have retained their supporter base while the likes of Wolves, Crystal Palace, Birmingham and Sunderland have struggled to sell tickets.

Sunderland may be watched by the biggest average crowd - 29,179 - but the 48,300-seater Stadium of Light is only 60pc full. It's even worse at Leeds, where the team's demise coupled with chairman Ken Bates' pricing policy means Elland Road is more than half empty for home games.

Coventry's excellent Ricoh Arena is still around 6,000 shy of being full while struggling Sheffield Wednesday can expect around 13,000 empty seats at Hillsborough.

While City top the table as far as percentage is concerned, they're second only to Sunderland when it comes to average home attendances - but, tellingly, of the top 10 teams, Carrow Road has the smallest capacity.

Ipswich are seventh in the percentage table, with the sixth highest average crowd of 21,617 at Portman Road, which has a capacity of 30,311.

GROUND FILLERS

Team, Average crowd, Ground capacity, % of capacity

Norwich City, 24,627, 25,500, 96.5

Luton Town, 8,789, 9,975, 88.1

Cardiff City, 17,658, 21,432, 82.3

Southend , 9,810, 12,392, 79.1

West Brom, 20,855, 28,003, 74.4

Coventry City , 17,387, 23,633, 73.5

Ipswich , 21,617, 30,311, 71.3

Derby , 23,488, 33,597, 69.9

Southampton, 22,377, 32,551, 68.7

Birmingham, 20,512, 30,009, 68.3

Preston, 13,877, 20,600, 67.3

Wolves, 19,452, 29,400, 66.1

Hull City, 16,775, 25,404, 66.0

Colchester, 4,976, 7,556, 65.8

Leicester, 21,217, 32,500, 65.2

Crystal Palace, 17,121, 26,400, 64.8

QPR, 12,182, 19,148, 63.6

Sunderland, 29,179, 48,300, 60.4

Shefd Wed, 23,565, 39,859, 59.1

Plymouth, 11,788, 20,922, 56.3

Burnley, 11,403, 22,546, 50.5

Stoke City, 14,176, 28,384, 49.9

Leeds Utd, 19,074, 40,204, 47.4

Barnsley, 10,809, 23,186, 46.6

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