Football’s popularity continues

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Published: Friday 12th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Attendances at professional sports events in the UK have exceeded 67 million this year, with football proving more than six times as popular to watch live as any other game.

According to analysis conducted by Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, 67.5m tickets have been sold in 2014 of which 42.8m were bought for football matches.

The Premier League sold 13.9m tickets in 2013/14, giving it the highest aggregate attendance of any domestic football league in Europe while the Championship is the fourth highest with 9.4m.

After football, horse racing and equestrian events were the second most popular, selling seven million tickets and helped largely by the fact those disciplines boast five of the top 10 most attended competitions.

Royal Ascot enjoyed the third highest attendance with 286,000 spectators while the Cheltenham Festival (232,000), the Burghley Horse Trials (166,000), the Epsom Derby (155,000) and the Aintree Grand National (139,000) were also named.

Wimbledon was by far the most popular event across its 13 days of competition, selling 491,000 tickets while Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Silverstone Grand Prix was the second best-attended with 298,000.

Rugby union attendances reached 4.9m in 2013/14, which is the third highest sport ahead of cricket (2.2m), rugby league and greyhound racing (both 2m), and motorsport (1.6m).

Rugby’s popularity is predicted to rise further as anticipation builds towards the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil, which is expected to sell 2.3m tickets.

Cricket’s shift towards the shorter formats of the game continued with its overall attendance boosted by a record number of spectators (707,000) for the domestic T20 competition, in what was the first year of its revamped schedule.

The list of events excluded those that were free to watch such as the London Marathon and the Tour de France, and also left out Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, which sold 1.3m tickets for the 11 days of competition.

Scotland played host to another one of the world’s most famous spectacles this year as 240,000 people witnessed Europe coast to Ryder Cup glory over America at Gleneagles. That figure made it the UK’s fifth best attended event in 2014.

Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “Sport has an innate ability to unite a nation, and this characteristic is evident in several of the best attended events of the year.

“Whether it be a continent coming together to support the European team in the Ryder Cup, or a nation getting behind Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton and Rory McIlroy in their respective quests for glory, sport is a powerful tool which can do much to galvanise national pride.”

Published: Friday 12th December 2014 by The News Editor

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