THE worrying trend of declining attendances at Munster Rugby matches is a “challenge” for the organisation, its CEO has admitted.
With the return of European rugby this Saturday, all eyes are on Thomond Park, which has struggled to draw crowds in the PRO12, most recently against Ulster, the official attendance for which was 13,039, but was significantly lower in reality.
Munster confirmed that, as of Wednesday, “over 16,000” tickets had been sold for the fixture against Treviso, with the Italian side not requesting any tickets. Sources within the organisation pointed out that “along with Leinster v Wasps, which has a similar amount sold, it would still be only second to Leicester v Stade this weekend and there are still lots on sale too there”.
Speaking on Live 95FM about the new shirt deal with Adidas and the decision to sell the jersey exclusively in Lifestyle from July of next year, Garrett Fitzgerald was drawn into a debate about ticket sales.
“We discuss it every day ourselves and sit down and have our workshops and to see what we can do,” he said.
“We are spending a lot of money promoting the games and doing certain things and the research coming back is that obviously people are saying first of all the kick off times, people need to understand, all the participants in the PRO12 do not have any input in the times.
“The attendances at rugby matches is a challenge for us, it is damaging our budgets. But we have to recognise that people only have a certain amount of money in their pocket and have to maybe be selective in the games that they will actually go to.”
Paul O’Connell told the Limerick Leader recently that he believed the province was defying the apparent trend.
“I have been around the Munster setup for the last few weeks and there is a brilliant buzz there, incredible ambition with the coaches, there is a burning ambition with the players still. I think Munster is in a very good place going forward. Certain things are going to have to happen to capitalise on that and we have got to keep our best players in the province and hopefully Munster can do that,” he outlined.