And it’s got nothing to do with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid fans are without a doubt one of the most fortunate set of supporters in world football.
Every week they get to see a team of Galacticos don the famous white shirt and produce spellbinding football.
With this being said, you would think that tickets to see Los Blancos in action, especially at the historic Santiago Bernabeu, would sell out instantly.
Well, what if we told you that there were over 33,000 empty seats in the capital last night, as Madrid faced Getafe in their first game of the season.
Julen Lopetegui’s side were 2-0 winners on the night, however only a crowd of 48,466 were there to witness it – one of the lowest recorded attendances at the Bernabeu.
Not since the 2008/09 season has the crowd for a La Liga game at the Bernabeu been so low.
A 3-1 defeat to Mallorca in 2008 was played in front of just 44,270 spectators, as Madrid were struggling under former boss Juande Ramos.
The internet has been rife with rumours about why there were so few supporters in the stadium against Getafe, with some suggesting that Ronaldo’s absence was a factor.
It was the first home game that Los Blancos have played since their talisman departed for Juventus and people are inevitably jumping to conclusions.
It turns out however that the empty seats had nothing to do with Ronaldo leaving. It was the matches’ unusual kick-off time to blame for the reduced crowd.
Allows us to explain…
Madrid’s first game of the season didn’t start until 10:15pm local time, much later than the norm in La Liga.
10:15pm, on a Sunday, that’s madness! The Emirates isn’t even full at 3pm on a Saturday.
The clash didn’t finish until midnight, with the stadium effectively empty close to full-time.
The players didn’t seem too pleased by the late start…
La Liga have been exploring a number of ways to increase the league’s reputation and reach around the globe, with later kick-off times one of these.
The Spanish top flight also announced two major changes last week, becoming the first top European league to agree to take regular-season games to America.
Will the Premier League soon follow?
A deal with Facebook has also been announced, allowing viewers in the Indian sub-continent to watch every La Liga game live.
This season’s unusual kick-off times are not the first example of La Liga altering their fixtures to benefit another country’s audience.
In 2015, the traditional kick-off times in La Liga were changed to suit UK fans, who had previously missed parts of fixtures, due to broadcasting law in the UK.
Sadly for Kroos and co, there are set to be yet more late nights to come.
Madrid’s next game, an away trip to Girona on Sunday, is also 10:15pm kick-off.
Would you turn out at midnight to watch your team play?
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