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Golden year for women’s sport takes UK sport to record 76.2m attendance

Posted on December 20, 2022 By Two Circles
  • 76. 2m attendance in 2022 surpasses previous record of 75.1m in 2019
  • Women’s sports attendances reach 2.4m – more than double 2019 (0.9m)
  • Football accounts for two-thirds of attendances; rugby union second most-attended sport.

Sport is sustaining its bounce back from Covid with the total attendance for professional UK sport¹ predicted to hit 76.2m in 2022, its highest on record, contributing £1.7bn to the UK economy².

Analysis by Two Circles shows that the 2022 attendance will surpass the previous record of 75.1m – posted in 2019, the last calendar year unaffected by Covid. Due to cancelled events and crowd restrictions, attendances reached just 15.7m in 2020 and 37.0m in 2021.

Women’s sport and major events are the key contributors to the UK’s record year of attendances.

This year, women’s sports events³ will post a total attendance of 2.4m – more than double 2019 (0.9m) – with the FA Women’s Super League surpassing the entire total attendance for the 2021/22 season (250k) in 40 games, less than a third of the way into the 2022/23 season.

Major one-off events – which in 2022 included Two Circles ticketing strategy clients the UEFA Women’s EURO, Commonwealth Games and Rugby League World Cup – will contribute 2.6m in cumulative attendances. This represents the highest annual cumulative UK attendance for major one-off events since 2012.

George Foster, UK Managing Director at Two Circles, said: “It’s been two years since we’ve had a full calendar year unimpacted by Covid, and our 2022 UK attendance analysis underlines the central importance of sport to UK society.

“The UK public loves live sport and the community and shared experiences it provides. Across the last decade, sports rights-holders have recognised this by investing in stadiums, event day experiences and new on-pitch products to open up the experience to more people. As a result, in 2022 we saw more women, children and ethnic minorities experience live sport than any other year in history.

“And 11 years after hosting what is seen by many as the most successful Olympic and Paralympic Games of all time, the UK continues to underline its position as the world capital of sports spectating, a dependable destination for international federations looking to deliver both amazing atmospheres and commercially-successful competitions.”

Football will contribute two-thirds (66.4%) of UK sports attendances in 2022, with the Premier League accounting for one in five of all UK sports attendances. The Premier League is on course to hit its highest attendance on record, with the average attendance for the 146 games played before the FIFA World Cup break standing at 39,910. This exceeds the average attendance of 39,572 in 2021/22, which ended with the highest total Premier League attendance to date (15.04m).

Rugby union (5.4m) will be the second most attended sport in 2022, with new one-off games ‘The Showdown’ (Saracens at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium) and ‘Big Summer Kick-Off’ (Harlequins at Twickenham) attracting attendances of 40.4k and 47.6k respectively. Rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games also drew more than 100k spectators at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Horse racing (4.9m) will be the third most-attended UK sport and cricket the fourth (2.9m), helped by the sale of 160k tickets for the women’s T20 cricket at the Commonwealth Games – a world record for a women’s cricket competition.

  1. Only paid ticketed events for professional, competitive sports events held in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are considered. Attendance figures used are those declared by the hosting rights-holder, which include the number of tickets sold and other relevant attendees granted access to the venue
  2. Total revenue generated by sales of products that grant access, via either general admission or hospitality tickets, between January 1st 2022 and December 31st 2022
  3. Standalone women’s sports events only; excludes mixed-gender events and double-headers featuring men’s and women’s teams/athletes.
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