Arsenal and other English giants misrepresent their attendance figures to give the impression they’re a bigger club, according to a director at a Premier League side.

It’s a running joke around the Arsenal fanbase that no matter what the Emirates Stadium looks like during a match, the official attendance figure will never dip below 55,000. It’s reached the point where the club doesn’t announce the number during senior matches, unlike the u23 games where they still do so.

The reason for the disparity between what we can see with our eyes, and what the club claims, is that the attendance figures Arsenal provide to the media are bizarrely based on ticket sales, not attendance figures.

It’s not because they don’t have access to the actual attendance numbers. The Daily Mail write that most Premier League clubs get a report from a company called ‘Fortress’ midway through the second half, giving them the crowd totals. Arsenal and most other English sides just choose to publish ticket sale totals as ‘attendance’ instead.

One director of a Premier League club explained to Sportsmail why that is.

“[It’s about] perception and brand image. If you quote higher attendance figures it obviously gives the impression that you’re a bigger club,” they said. “And while television money amounts to roughly 70 percent of the revenue for Premier League clubs, it could also help boost sponsorship revenue.

“If you can tell a potential sponsor you’ve got, say, two million sets of eyes on your shirts over the course of a season, that might help when it comes to negotiating.”

The problem is that if Arsenal post their real attendance figures and other clubs don’t, it makes them look bad by comparison. Essentially, there’s no incentive unless everyone else is doing it. That’s just how it is.