Attendances are down 7 per cent for alignment clubs East Perth and Peel. Pic: Sharon Smith/WA News

The alignment model's introduction has failed to generate a surge in WAFL crowds, with average attendances down across the first month of the season.

WA Football Commission officials are hopeful the decision to partner East Perth and Peel Thunder with WA's two AFL clubs will generate more interest in the WAFL in the long term.

But there has been a worrying early-season trend, with the average crowds in the first five rounds of this season down six per cent on the same period last year.

Attendances have fallen from an average of 2065 per game in the first month of 2013, to 1945 so far this year.

Interest in matches involving the Royals and the Thunder, who field West Coast and Fremantle's reserves under the five-year arrangement, has mirrored the trend.

The average attendance at matches featuring the aligned clubs has been 2081, which is a seven per cent fall on the first five rounds of last season.

Both sets of figures include the Easter weekend matches and a derby between West Perth and East Perth, but not the league's two Fremantle sides, a sign the results have not been skewed by a single showcase match.

The fall continues a gradual decline from recent seasons, with attendance levels sliding about two per cent each year since 2011.

WAFL council of presidents' chairman and West Perth president Brett Raponi said the Falcons had been disappointed with the crowd of 2294 that turned out for their round-three derby against the Royals.

"It's still a bit early to say, but we're very conscious of it (crowds)," Raponi said.

"Let's just say we're monitoring it really closely.

"Those gate attendances for all clubs have a significant influence over our budgets for the year.

"It's something the commission should be concerned with."

Four WAFL clubs - Peel, Swan Districts, West Perth and South Fremantle - recorded losses last year.

WAFC chief operating officer Nick Sautner said he was hopeful crowds would build as the year progressed.

"The cornerstones of the partnering model are about competitiveness and sustainability of the WAFL clubs and of the WAFL competition," Sautner said.

"As these are achieved, we believe the level of public interest in the WAFL will rise accordingly."

Fears that East Perth and Peel would dominate the league under the alignment model have been unfounded.

The Royals have lost their past two matches and Peel are yet to record a victory.

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said he would prefer the Thunder to be winning, but described the partnership as beneficial.

"There was a lot of noise in the marketplace," Lyon said.

"Nothing stays the same for ever, but the fears were unfounded, weren't they?"

The West Australian

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