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Who was the best-supported NRL club in 2016?

JT delivers the Cowboys a premiership. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Roar Guru
1st November, 2016
8
2138 Reads

The question is often asked, who is the best-supported NRL team?

Arguments ensue and highly questionable reasoning and statistics are produced to argue the point for one team over another.

Who says we can’t produce the same?

As a slice of self-indulgence, I call it the Gurgler Fan Index or GFI for fans of acronyms.

While there are reasonable assumptions for categories and statistics behind the below stats, this will no doubt cause plenty of debate.

Instead of being purely big crowds, or large membership numbers, we’ve tried to gather statistics on a variety of fan based mediums, and where applicable, attempted to even up some of the geographic advantages some teams have.

Here are some general points before we head into the statistics.

Where possible I have tried to include geographically-corrected stats for some crowd figures. It’s only fair. Brisbane has 2 million or so potential people to attend games. Canberra, Newcastle, Auckland have much fewer.

Although Sydney is much larger, it has 9 teams to share the love around. So Sydney teams corrected scores are using the total population of Sydney divided by nine.

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Social media is included as a way for clubs to interact with their fans, and fans to do so in return. Some of them are better at it than others. But we are going for quantity over quality. In this modern day of social media being king, it is an important way of connecting with fans. Being the World Wide Web, it is a slightly more level playing field.

We toyed with the idea of punishing teams for having more than three jerseys for the season, as a blatant disregard for fans if they feel they need to buy one more jersey than they should.

The highest cost of a jersey on Ebay was a way to test the street value of the specific clubs.

All teams were ranked 1 – 16, with 16 points given to the best performed team and one for the lowest ranked. The winner has the biggest total at the end of each segment and overall.

Onto the results then. You can argue, I don’t blame you. But the results are possibly interesting.

The individual scores for each specific category were taken as of the end of the season on September 15. Displayed is the overall ranking score of 16 to 1 per category. Actual numbers are available in a spreadsheet somewhere in Gurgler land if anyone is interested.

  CROWD SUB TOTAL % Full Monday Night High AvCrowd High Avg Corrected Smal Gap H-L Highest Crowd – Corr Avg per Comp Point
Knights 85 5 13 8 16 12 15 16
Cowboys 83 14 15 14 15 6 12 7
Eels 69 12 9 7 10 3 14 14
Sharks 68 16 8 12 8 16 6 2
Broncos 67.5 15 1.5 16 3 14 3 15
Bulldogs 66 3 11 13 13 8 13 5
Tigers 59 9 10 5 9 9 8 9
Sea Eagles 58 10 3 11 12 5 4 13
Raiders 58 7 12 3 14 10 11 1
Storm 57 11 14 15 1 11 1 4
Souths 56 2 4 9 11 2 16 12
Titans 51 8 7 6 6 7 9 8
Panthers 50 13 5 4 7 13 5 3
Warriors 46.5 6 1.5 10 2 15 2 10
Dragons 44 4 16 2 5 4 7 6
Roosters 34 1 6 1 4 1 10 11

Newcastle are the big surprise here. They smashed the average crowd per competition point, showing their fans’ resilience in one of the worst NRL seasons in a decade, although you could argue they are slightly rewarded for getting such a low amount of points.

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They do have a corrected advantage of being a one-town team too, but they don’t have the same catchment as Brisbane or Auckland. You can’t argue they are loyal fans, though.

The Broncos, unsurprisingly, had the highest average, but it did drop when corrected geographically. Melbourne being last in the same comparison is no surprise either. One could argue that they have to compete against AFL, and I’ll let them.

Monday night rankings were included to reward those who are punished with more games than others, Monday night being the hardest game of the week to attract fans to. The Broncos and Warriors share the points for last and second last given they didn’t have a home game on a Monday night.

The ‘percentage full’ statistic is another win for the Sharks, whose supporters really turned out for them in 2016. Those fans were rewarded with a first premiership. It’s possibly a bit tough on the teams that share the Olympic Stadium.

The smallest gap between highest and lowest crowd was to reward a team who has consistent turn outs, in addition to big crowds for one off blockbusters. It’s another win for the Sharks.

Membership statistics

  MEMBERS SUB TOTAL Membership Membership Corr Avg Crowd – Members
Cowboys 33 11 13 9
Souths 32 15 16 1
Eels 31 14 15 2
Bulldogs 30 13 11 6
Broncos 29 16 3 10
Knights 29 2 12 15
Raiders 29 7 14 8
Panthers 26 12 10 4
Tigers 25 6 8 11
Sharks 24 5 7 12
Storm 22 8 1 13
Sea Eagles 22 3 5 14
Dragons 21 9 9 3
Titans 21 1 4 16
Warriors 19 10 2 7
Roosters 15 4 6 5

Sydney clubs feature high up on the list as consistently strong performers. The Broncos win overall again, but drop down when compared geographically.

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The third measure was an attempt to compare the number of members to the average crowd, to see how many of the members actually turn up to games and reward loyalty. It was a rare win for the Titans in this category, and one they could win overall next year with a certain Mr Hayne on board.

Social media statistics

  SOCIAL MEDIA SUB TOTAL Twitter Followers Twitter Likes Facebook Followers
Broncos 47 16 15 16
Warriors 46 15 16 15
Souths 41 14 14 13
Storm 39 13 12 14
Bulldogs 33 12 10 11
Roosters 30 9 13 8
Tigers 29 11 9 9
Eels 25 6 7 12
Cowboys 22 10 2 10
Sea Eagles 19 8 5 6
Knights 18 4 11 3
Sharks 15 5 6 4
Titans 15 7 1 7
Panthers 12 2 8 2
Dragons 11 3 3 5
Raiders 6 1 4 1

The Broncos are the kings of the social media, with the Warriors only just being beaten into second place. A reasonable gap between the haves and have nots.

Ebay jerseys

  Ebay Jersey
Bulldogs 16
Cowboys 15
Dragons 14
Storm 13
Souths 12
Eels 11
Roosters 10
Broncos 9
Sea Eagles 8
Knights 7
Sharks 6
Titans 5
Tigers 4
Panthers 3
Raiders 2
Warriors 1

OK, this one might seem a little absurd, but this does test out the street value of the club’s most prized possession.

Overall results
And the winner of the best-supported NRL team is… the North Queensland Cowboys

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  CROWDS MEMBERS SOCIAL MEDIA EBAY
Team Total points % Full Monday Night High AvCrowd High Avg Corrected Smal Gap H-L Highest Crowd – Corr Avg per Comp Point Membership Membership Corr Avg Crowd – Members Twitter Followers Twitter Likes Facebook Followers Ebay Jersey
Cowboys 153.0 14 15 14 15 6 12 7 11 13 9 10 2 10 15
Broncos 152.5 15 1.5 16 3 14 3 15 16 3 10 16 15 16 9
Bulldogs 145.0 3 11 13 13 8 13 5 13 11 6 12 10 11 16
Souths 141.0 2 4 9 11 2 16 12 15 16 1 14 14 13 12
Knights 139.0 5 13 8 16 12 15 16 2 12 15 4 11 3 7
Eels 136.0 12 9 7 10 3 14 14 14 15 2 6 7 12 11
Storm 131.0 11 14 15 1 11 1 4 8 1 13 13 12 14 13
Tigers 117.0 9 10 5 9 9 8 9 6 8 11 11 9 9 4
Sharks 113.0 16 8 12 8 16 6 2 5 7 12 5 6 4 6
Warriors 112.5 6 1.5 10 2 15 2 10 10 2 7 15 16 15 1
Sea Eagles 107.0 10 3 11 12 5 4 13 3 5 14 8 5 6 8
Raiders 95.0 7 12 3 14 10 11 1 7 14 8 1 4 1 2
Titans 92.0 8 7 6 6 7 9 8 1 4 16 7 1 7 5
Panthers 91.0 13 5 4 7 13 5 3 12 10 4 2 8 2 3
Dragons 90.0 4 16 2 5 4 7 6 9 9 3 3 3 5 14
Roosters 89.0 1 6 1 4 1 10 11 4 6 5 9 13 8 10

The Cowboys beat their neighbours by just half a point. Had the Broncos had a Monday night game they may have nabbed first place.

Big Sydney clubs the Bulldogs, Souths and Eels featured highly, and possibly a little surprising are the Knights in fifth spot.

The Storm do well considering they lose out big when corrected geographically.

Sydney teams are around the bottom, but who is to say our analysis is correct anyway?

It’s something to talk about other than which players can go to another for the 2018 season as of November 1. An even more absurd process than our Fan Index.

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