5 Poor Football Teams with Great Fans
The lot of the average football fan these days is often an unhappy one. Faced with ever increasing prices for tickets, hot dogs and match programmes, their pocket feels the pinch every time they go to see their beloved team.
Conversely, that big match-day outlay goes towards the inflated wages of the players they are paying to watch, leading to the gap between supporter and star in terms of lifestyle getting wider every year.
That the clubs at the top end of their respective leagues still enjoy big crowds and partisan support is no surprise, but for those sides who are not regularly challenging for honours to have strong support is, in this day and age, something to behold.
Here are five clubs who have an excellent base of fans, even though they do not reward them with regular success (all attendance figures come via Soccernet's statistics section).
Hoffenheim is a small village in the south-west of Germany, near where the Rhine and Neckar rivers converge, has a population of around 3,500. The neighbouring town of which is a suburb, Sinsheim, is home to just 36,000 people.
Despite that, Bundesliga club Hoffenheim has welcomed an average of 28,000 fans to their 30,000-capacity stadium this season, even though they are settled deep into mid-table mediocrity.
The small town team has the investment of software mogul Dietmar Hopp to thank for their top-flight status, and their fans have repaid him with their devotion ever since.
In 2005, Forest became the first ever club to have lifted the European Cup to get relegated to the third tier of their respective domestic league.
The subsequent years have not been kind to Forest. After regaining Championship status in 2008, they finished third two years later but lost out in the playoffs. While this season, they have slumped back into the bottom half.
Despite all of those travails, the City Ground has the seventh-best attendance in the division, and has so far had more than 500,000 spectators through its turnstiles this season.
They may be Seville's "other" club these days, and they may have yo-yoed between the top two divisions in recent years, but Betis are still a big club in Spain.
Los Beticos continue to flood through the gates of the Estadio Benito Villamarin, no matter which division their team happens to be in.
Last season, their average attendance was still in the top 50 in Europe, despite them being in the Segunda Division.
This season, their average attendance of almost 41,000 is the fifth-best in Spain, more than Basque giants Athletic Bilbao and even better than that of their more salubrious local rivals Sevilla. Only Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia pull in bigger crowds.
Being a Plymouth Argyle fan has rarely been much other than a chastening experience, but in recent years it has been a nightmare for the Green Army.
The club was plunged into administration last season, was relegated from League One, and began this term with a 10-point deduction.
But despite that, and with the club set to finish just three places off the bottom of the Football League pyramid this season, Argyle still have the fourth-best attendance in League Two this season.
Few clubs anywhere in world football are as readily defined by their fans as Stoke City. Whereas most other fans would baulk at the sort of uninspiring but effective football that Tony Pulis's side employ, Potters supporters understand that it is the reason why they have preserved their Premier League status.
The Britannia Stadium has once again been a fortress, with only the top five clubs losing fewer than the four league games Stoke have on their own turf this season.
You only need look at the crowd, which is at capacity almost every week, united in their goading of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger last weekend, to see how much of an asset they are to their club.
Their home fixture against Bolton on the final day of the season will see Stoke's total attendance for 2011-12 pass the 500,000 mark yet again, and all despite them finishing the campaign basically being over for them ever since they were knocked out of Europe back in February.