New Wembley set for lowest England attendance
LONDON (AP) — Wembley Stadium is set to be more than half empty for England’s friendly against Norway next week in a sign of public apathy following the national team’s worst-ever World Cup campaign.
The English Football Association said Thursday that only 35,000 to 40,000 fans are expected in the 90,000-capacity national stadium to see Roy Hodgson’s side. The friendly on Wednesday will witness the lowest crowd for an England game since the new Wembley opened in 2007.
The previous lowest saw only 48,876 attend a friendly against Sweden in 2011.
“It is disappointing,” FA General Secretary Alex Horne said. “We have got some work to do, we have to rebuild a squad which is Roy’s department, and we have got to rebuild some trust with the supporters.”
England went out of the World Cup in June after losing twice and drawing once in the group stage.
“Of course it concerns me — it is understandable,” Hodgson said. “I can’t expect people to suddenly shrug that off in the way that we as players and coaches have to deal with it and get on with it. I am hoping that it won’t be too evident that apathy exists.”
After hosting Norway, England travels to Switzerland to open 2016 European Championship qualifying on Sept. 8. The FA will then have another tough job filling Wembley for the Oct. 9 qualifier against minnow San Marino.
England dropped to 20th in the most recent FIFA rankings, the 1966 World Cup winners’ lowest position since 1996.
Horne also revealed Thursday that England has lined up friendlies against France, Spain, Italy and Germany over the next two years.
AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Monaco contributed to this report.