Fans' disillusion with England to be reflected at the turnstile

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Wembley stadium is expected to be only two-thirds full for England's friendly with Hungary this week as supporters stay away from the national team following the country's poor showing at the World Cup.

The Football Association and the television companies – the match is going out live on ITV1 – face having rows of empty seats on show on Wednesday. The latest estimated attendance is 60,000 – some 30,000 below the ground's 90,000 capacity – with fans expected to vote with their wallets.

England's lowest attendance at the new Wembley stands at 57,897, for the World Cup qualifier against Andorra in June 2009, when supporters had difficulties getting to that match due to London Tube strikes. In England's 18 games at the stadium so far, attendances have averaged 81,632.

Ticket prices for Wednesday's match have been set on a sliding scale of £40, £30, £25 and £20. Tickets in the family enclosure are £20 for adults, with an accompanying child at £10. The pricing structure was set before the World Cup, with the Football Association hoping for a glorious homecoming. England's following home match, against Bulgaria in a European Championship qualifier on 3 September, will see prices return to the normal structuring of between £30 and £60.

All Category 1 (£40) tickets for Wednesday's match have been sold, although seats were still available last night for all other areas of the stadium. There are not expected to be any further reduction in prices and tickets will not be available for purchase on the night. There are no plans to give away tickets to local schoolchildren this week, partly due to the summer holidays. As with every England home game, schools and junior sides were able to apply for blocks of tickets, but the deadline for that passed in June.

This week's attendance could struggle to match the number who watched the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final in March, when 73,476 saw Southampton beat Carlisle United. England's four previous matches at Wembley have all attracted crowds of over 75,000.

The quality of the opposition may be a factor in the low take-up of tickets. England managed to attract 86,133 to an August friendly with Germany three years ago but the following year's equivalent match, against the Czech Republic in August 2008, was watched by just 69,738, coming off the back of a European Championship for which England failed to qualify.

The Football Association have defended the staging of the match, 45 days after England's defeat by Germany in the World Cup and three weeks before the start of the qualifiers for the 2012 European Championship. "It is an international date scheduled by Fifa," a spokesman said. "It is an important opportunity to prepare for competitive games."