Think our average league placing over the last 15 seasons is about 13-14th.. which coincidentally or not is perhaps where we are in terms of level of our average support. Clearly we've been struggling recently but in terms of support we are probably/definitely a bigger club than Ross C, Livi and Hamilton, maybe St Johnstone too, but smaller than both Dundee clubs, Dunfermline and Falkirk, so maybe 13th is our spot in terms of support. Other things being equal (which they aren't) that would mean in an average season we'd just been relegated or just being promoted. So right in the "yo yo" spot.
As posters have pointed out, other factors come into play. One thing that does seem to remain constant is the general size of any clubs support. You cannot manufacture an increase and even tho' Thistle have been letting Kids in for Free it hasn't yet, and maybe never will, lead to an increase in support. Maybe our support would be lower without it. But we do seem to simply tred water in terms of our support over the last 20-30 years. Maybe it's the same for every club. I recall ex chairman Jim Oliver saying that the best time to be chairman was when we were chasing promotion, everyone was excited, then ecstatic when we won it, fairly chirpy during the first season back in the premier league, then critical thereafter i.e. struggling in 10th position in the SPL wasn't as much fun as the 3rd, 2nd, 1st in the championship. So the solution seems to be to be perpetually in 3rd, 2nd, 1st spot...........
For me the most obvious differentiatior in terms of are we "punching above our weight" is the manager. Davie McParland, Bertie Auld, John Lambie and Archie are the few that managed it. The vast majority over that 50 year period failed. I think McCall has the talent to do it, so provided he is given a workable budget, plus if the academy keeps going and yields some more talent, then there's no reason why we can't do what Livi, Hamilton, Ross C, St Johnstone are currently doing - but it's possible that Dundee, Dunfermline and Falkirk may get their act together soon (along with Dundee U) and be competing with us for promotion.
But the real challenge comes after promotion - how do you sustain it, how do you become an established premier league club that no longer yo-yo's... in terms of support we should be aiming for the St Johnstone template (Motherwell I think have a consistently bigger support than us?). But St Johnstone have benefited from free land to build a stadium (which in turn was funded by the sale of Muirton) and Jeff Brown was constantly writing big cheques for many seasons (according to the late Brown McMaster), and they have a talented manager, and stability. But if we are debt free, and if St Johnstone are now living within their means with no external funding (?) then perhaps we can realistically target it too? Of course my argument gets crashed if St Johnstone are now living within their means and slowly slip out of the top league in the next season or two!
Meanwhile, we've been around the bottom of the championship for about 15 months, so let's get that sorted first! But with McCall in charge i'm confident about the future.