Popular spectator sports in the UK’s

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It’s difficult to measure actual crowd numbers at large sporting events, either because they spread over more than a day or as they are not held in a single stadium. For example, when the Grand Depart of the Tour de France came to Yorkshire in 2014, an estimated 2.2m spectators watched the first few days of the race, but does that make it the most popular sporting event of that year in the UK?

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A look at the most recent available figures may help to put that figure into perspective and indicate which events can claim to be among the most popular across the nation.

Relative popularity

As in 2014, a number of one-off international events took place in the country during 2017. These included the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff, the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, and cricket’s ICC Champions Trophy and Women’s World Cup. The result was that paying spectators totalled 74.5m last year. With high numbers going into the millions you can imagine how important it is for the event management to keep track of all of the numbers coming to watch the sport. The best way to do this is with a Visitor Management System UK company and one option is Ofec.

If we look at sports which take place in the UK every year, we get a better idea of their relative popularity. It is also important to note that football crowds accounted for 60% of paying fans in 2017.

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Annual events

Although the IAAF Championships were the most popular event of 2017, attracting over 700,000 spectators, they are unlikely to return to the UK any time soon and so skew the figures, exaggerating the popularity of athletics year-on-year.

A better rule of thumb is to look at annual events, such as the British Grand Prix, which consistently brings in the big crowds each year and again figured high in the charts, with 300,000 paying fans attending the three-day extravaganza at Silverstone.
The top ten annual events were in line with 2016, with Wimbledon taking top spot with over 430,000 attendees over 13 days.

Horse racing events still pulled in huge crowds, with 294,000 attending Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival averaging 65,000 on each of its four days.

In golf, The Open continues to attract fans, with a record breaking 235,000 at Royal Birkdale last year. Meanwhile, the emergence of Anthony Joshua as a British boxer of note means that he readily sells out stadiums, with over 90,000 turning out to watch him at Wembley.

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