18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
Compared to the same time last year the total increase in season ticket holders across the Premiership has risen by 19% (compared to 12% growth last season).
Zurich Premiership newcomers Worcester Warriors have recorded the biggest growth with over 3000 season tickets sold with two weeks until the season begins, whilst double champions London Wasps and Parker Pen Challenge Cup winners NEC Harlequins have also both sold more than 1000 more season tickets than last season.
Howard Thomas, Chief Executive of Premier Rugby, was thrilled with the news, 'Ticket sales and attendance has grown at a phenomenal rate over the last few seasons but this is the first time all 12 clubs have increased their sales. It is a fantastic achievement by the 12 clubs and a clear illustration of the health of the professional club game. Last year's story was the Rugby World Cup but this year the focus is back on the Zurich Premiership and with such a strong, competitive league and many of the world's finest players it's no wonder the supporters are enjoying the club game so much.'
The need to grow capacity and improve facilities is still an issue for several clubs with more sell outs expected this season than ever before.
Gloucester and NEC Harlequins have been busy growing their stadia during the off season but several more clubs, including Bath and Leicester Tigers, have an urgent need to develop their grounds.
The new Zurich Premiership season begins on the weekend of 4th September and the opening weekend is already setting new attendance records with nearly 40,000 tickets already sold for the London Double Header premiership matches at Twickenham.
Worcester Warriors begin their Zurich Premiership campaign at home and in front of the live Sky Sports television cameras on Sunday 5th and have already sold almost 8,000 tickets for this first match against Newcastle Falcons.
It is anticipated therefore that the opening weekend of the 2004/05 Zurich Premiership could smash all previous attendance figures.
This will hopefully have a positive knock on affect on the attendances of the Heineken Cup which kicks - off on the weekend of 22/23/24 October.