Championship posts record attendance of 12.7 million

Featured image credit: Bradley Rial

The English Football League (EFL) has claimed the title of the highest attended league body in Europe after welcoming more than 21.5 million fans in 2023-24, with the figure including an all-time record of more than 12.7 million spectators in the second-tier Championship.

The Championship’s overall attendance of 12,723,678 last season represented a 22% increase on the previous campaign. According to the EFL, it represents the highest ever cumulative audience for the second tier since records began in 1892.

A number of clubs in the Championship last season boast stadiums with capacities of more than 30,000, including relegated Leeds United, Leicester City and Southampton, which boosted the overall attendance figure. For comparison, Luton Town and Burnley, two of the clubs who were promoted from the Championship in the previous season, have stadium capacities of 12,000 and 21,000, respectively.

Attendances were also boosted by Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, who were promoted to the Championship ahead of the 2023-24 season and boast large stadium capacities themselves.

The Championship also became the second most attended league in Europe last season, ahead of the likes of the Bundesliga, LaLiga and Serie A. The Championship placed fifth in 2022-23.

The EFL operates the Championship, League One and League Two, as well as the Carabao Cup and the Bristol Street Motors Trophy. The Championship, League One and League Two all featured in the top 15 best attended leagues in Europe last season, with League One and League Two placing ninth and 13th, respectively.

The cumulative attendance figure across all competitions is the most since 1951-52 and represents an 11% increase on the previous season. The figure placed the EFL above the German Football League (DFL), which operates the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.

League Two’s cumulative attendance of 3,458,968 was the highest fourth-tier attendance since 1964-65, and marked an 8% increase on the previous year. More than 5.3 million fans watched League One matches last season, with the EFL noting that Derby County’s average attendance of 27,278 was higher than six Premier League clubs.

More than 1.5 million fans attended Carabao Cup matches, while the Bristol Street Motors Trophy attracted an overall attendance of 293,300. The Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool was watched by 88,868 fans, the highest since the 2014-15 final.

The end-of-season playoffs attracted more than 400,000 fans, culminating in the Championship final between Leeds and Southampton at Wembley, which posted an attendance of 85,862.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “The 2023-24 numbers – not just in stadiums, but inside homes all around the world – are tangible proof that our competitions now rank among some of the most exciting and popular in European football. To be the highest attended league body in Europe is testament to our league and clubs.

“It really is a remarkable feat when you consider the quality of players and football on show across the continent. These numbers are not only a result of the strength and depth of the EFL but also highlight the importance of the football pyramid and the reasons why we need to protect it.”

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