If you want to read the background to this analysis have a look at this earlier post. In this article I said that "the Northern League is both stable and set fair for the future". This is no longer true as this chart shows:
It's clear that overall attendance is in slow decline and the downward trend from 2011 to 2014 cannot be ignored. The main cause is the steady fall in the numbers playing FOG AM (Field of Glory: Ancients & Medieval). Here's the data:
Average Players / Round
To pick out the most pertinent points from this data:
- As already mentioned, the main reason for the decline in attendance is the steady fall in the numbers playing FOG AM. The 2014 the average attendance was down 58.9% compared to the peak of 2011. The actual figure is worse as a couple of doubles teams often played as singles.
- It's not all bad news as DBMM continues to see a slow but steady increase in popularity. In 2014 average attendance was up 11.6% on 2011.
- The numbers playing FOG R are essentially stable with 3 teams playing in every road compared to 4 and 5 in FOG AM & DBMM respectively.
It's not that there's a lack of interest in the ancient & medieval period. It's just that, so far, nothing has emerged to tempt those who've abandoned FOG AM for the likes of FOG R and FOW. I've seen repeated comments along the lines of "I've got loads of ancient / medieval armies simply gathering dust". Perhaps Sword & Spear, Art de la Guerre, or DBA 3.0 will tempt people back to the table? Who knows.
Unfortunately, tempting players back to the table is only the first part of the process. To be viable there has to be enough players willing to "seed" the competition circuit and draw in others. FOG R managed this in 2012/13 but so far none of the new ancient and medieval rules seem able to do this.
2015 looks like it's going to be another year of transition. As the Chinese curse says "may you live in interesting times".