Western United and Newcastle Jets have combined for an unwanted piece of history after Monday's A-League match attracted the smallest crowd in the competition's history.
The home side's 2-0 win over the Jets at Melbourne's AAMI Park was watched by just 990 people inside the stadium.
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The paltry attendance figure is 13 less than the previous worst crowd for an A-League match of 1003, set during a match between now-defunct North Queensland Fury and the Brisbane Roar.
While the numbers don't make pretty reading for football in Australia, the poor crowd could be put down to the fixture being rescheduled to be played on a Monday night following a jam-packed Anzac Day of sporting events.
Some supporters at AAMI Park, however, were sceptical there were even close to one thousand fans in attendance, with many suggesting the figure was much lower.
Either way it's a grim reality for the A-League and Western United, who along with Macarthur FC are the newest clubs in Australia's domestic football competition.
Many fans have pointed to the "awful" crowd figure as evidence that the A-League season - which began in December and still has six rounds of the regular season to go - is simply too long.
Others have suggested that perhaps officials got expansion plans wrong by introducing a third Melbourne team into an already clustered Victorian sporting market.
Whatever the argument, it was a poor advertisement for the local game as footage and pictures taken on Monday night showed row after row of empty seats.
The unfortunate situation was not lost on viewers, who took to social media to share their thoughts.
Pretty sure that at 990 that is the lowest ever aleague crowd. @wufcofficial are going to have to do something to address this at some stage. Got chosen for the catchment area over merit. Time to start delivering. The 2 new teams seem to be NZ Knights 2.0 #WUNvNEW
— Jordan Renouf (@JordanRenouf) April 26, 2021
— Adrian Arciuli (@Adrian_Arciuli) April 27, 2021
— Victor #StaySafe 🇦🇺 (@BigV2011WCE) April 26, 2021
— Wearing a tie to impress Laddie 🍀31-27☘ (@AmpolLeeds) April 26, 2021
Western United need to stick to their guns and only play out of Geelong, this crowd is just woeful. #WUNvNEW
— Dson (@Dson001) April 26, 2021
2+ Years later and Western United still haven't figured out who/where they are representing.. You literally have to wiki their page in order to realize they are based in Western Melbourne. That gives fans a great incentive to follow the club.. Good lord 🤦♂️🤦♂️#WUNvNEW
— Matt Percival (@CosmicMatt92) April 26, 2021
I'm a Western United fan and I didn't even know tonights game was on. Monday night in the middle of the AFL season with virtually no promotion for a club that's already struggling for crowds, aint a great combination. #WUNvNEW
— Cade Lucas (@cadelucas) April 26, 2021
— graeme fletcher (@wests_glory) April 26, 2021
Win moves United back into top six
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly hit the A-League hard, with 13 of the lowest 20 attendances recorded in the competition's history, coming over the last two years.
While limited stadium capacities explain some of last year's figures, some of the lowest turnouts have occurred in 2021 with no crowd limitations in place.
Western United's win moved into the A-League's top six but it was soured by an an injury to Socceroo defender Josh Risdon, who hobbled off with an injury that will require scans on Tuesday.
"Very disciplined and professional performance tonight, which pleased me the most," said coach Mark Rudan.
"It's another (clean sheet), which is always pleasing, but I thought we dominated the game from start to finish."
Despite their opener coming off defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, United appeared comfortable throughout the match: putting in a well-drilled, purposeful shift as they secured points in three-straight games for the first time this season.
Confronting suspensions to Brendan Hamill and Tomislav Uskok, the hosts moved to a four-player defence for the contest, with Olyroo hopeful Dylan Pierias pushing into midfield in response.
Spaniard Victor Sanchez proved an important steadying presence next to the latter, as his side condemned the bottom-placed Jets, who face leaders Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Thursday, to their 10th game without a win.
"Today we probably didn't create enough opportunities," Jets coach Crag Deans said.
"Didn't get the ball into enough good areas to give ourselves a chance to win."
A-League's lowest crowd figures
990 – Western United vs Newcastle Jets 2020-21, AAMI Park
1003 – North Queensland Fury vs Brisbane Roar 2010-11, Skilled Park
1035 – Central Coast Mariners vs Western Sydney Wanderers 2019-20, Central Coast Stadium
1035 – Brisbane Roar vs Adelaide United 2019-20, Cbus Super Stadium
1118 – Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne Victory 2019-20, Bankwest Stadium
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