Derby County supporters have endured a torrid season off the pitch with their turmoil severely disrupting matters on the field too.
Entering administration back in September, the Rams were given a mountain to climb in their quest to remain afloat in the Championship following a summer that was heavily impacted by their strict transfer embargo.
These restrictions meant they were only able to recruit five senior players during the summer, not a terrible total on paper but it certainly wasn’t an adequate number considering how many players left Pride Park in the summer.
Derby County quiz: Do you know the middle name of these 15 Rams stars?
And their attempts to stay up were hit by what now appears to have been the fatal blow in November when a further nine-point sanction was implemented for a historic breath of the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules.
This has understandably left the Rams’ fanbase demoralised at times with a takeover still not being completed at this stage despite US businessman Chris Kirchner being selected by the club’s administrators as their preferred bidder earlier this month.
One thing that certainly can’t be criticised is the East Midlands outfit’s support this term, with many still remaining extremely loyal to the cause despite the turmoil and the supporters have been rightfully praised by manager Wayne Rooney and his players on a consistent basis throughout the 2021/22 campaign.
In fairness, the players have repaid that support with some brave performances on the pitch for much of this season, especially at home, so perhaps that’s one reason why administration hasn’t seen a huge dip in their average attendance numbers this season, managing to lure in 21,324 on average during 2021/22 compared to 22,079 during 2019/20 when fans were allowed in the stadium.
That may be less than the 22,079 they attracted during the 2019/20 season – but the cost of living and people potentially staying away because of Covid-19 also has to be taken into consideration as well as the Rams’ club-specific circumstances.
Looking at the figures over several years though, their average attendance figure has been dropping ever since 2015/16, a time when they were able to bring in just shy of 30,000 people consistently (29,663).
In 2015/16, 2017/18 and 2018/19 though, they achieved top-six finishes and enjoyed a reasonably successful period at the top end of the division, with particular excitement coming during that latter season under Frank Lampard when he was able to recruit the likes of Harry Wilson and Mason Mount, both of whom belong at the top level now.
These declining numbers aren’t a reflection of the support this term though because it has been nothing short of superb, with 22,753 spectators coming to watch their tie against Bristol City last weekend despite the fact their relegation had already been confirmed.
With a change in ownership potentially on the horizon though with Kirchner continuing to advance in his quest to take control of the second-tier club, it would be no surprise to see attendances go up despite the fact they will be plying their trade in the third tier.
And those numbers may increase further if it looks as though they have a chance of securing their return to the second tier at the first time of asking.