Celtic host half of Premiership crowds as fifth largest attendance this century is recorded

Celtic Park hosted more than half of the entire cinch Premiership crowd as the SPFL opening weekend kicked off the league season.

Supporters flocked to grounds across the country for the league’s opening weekend – and the top flight’s combined attendance was the fifth largest gathering this century.

Two of the matches were available live on television via Sky Sports, yet 106,173 supporters still turned out to watch the six games across the cinch Premiership – with 58,824 inside Celtic Park for flag day against Aberdeen.

A total of 130,983 fans turned out across Scotland's four divisions, taking advantage of the lifted capacity restrictions in place over the past two seasons due to Covid-19. Grounds in the cinch Championship hosted 11,883 fans while a similar number – 12,927 were spread around Leagues One and Two with 7,321 of those at Dunfermline and Falkirk games.

Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said: “The start of a new cinch SPFL season is always an exciting time, and it was made even better by the fact we’ve started it for the first time in three years with capacity crowds.

“It is hugely impressive for over 130,000 fans to have attended matches across our four divisions and another reminder of the huge commitment of Scottish football fans.

“Having fans back in stadia has been a real boost for supporters themselves, players and the clubs, and dramatically improves the experience for all involved.

“It’s been a tough time for our 42 member clubs since the pandemic began, so to have ticket and hospitality revenue from the beginning of the season again is a real bonus.”

Celtic fans during the cinch Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park, on July 31, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Two years ago just 50 fans watched St Mirren kick-off as fans were forced to watch games from home during the pandemic. Last season capacities were limited to a percentage of teach ground’s total capacity, combining for some of the lowest attendance tallies on record.

However those anomalies aside, Scottish crowds are on the up on opening day with some of the highest figures this century coming in the past five years.

In 2017 110,583 turned out across the first weekend with five-figure crowds at Celtic Park (v Hearts), Easter Road (v Partick Thistle) and Pittodrie (v Hamilton). Motherwell’s Fir Park was 26 spectators off joining them on five-figures.

That is dwarfed by the 116,038 recorded in 2001 but beats 2018’s 109,196 and 107,818 the following year before covid struck. After the lockout 44097 attended last year, which is still more than opening weekend 2014.

Falkirk recorded the highest attendance in the bottom two divisions. (Picture: Michael Gillen)

With the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow and Celtic Park in use, the defending champions delayed their Premiership kick-off until the following midweek fixture card meaning only five games raised the curtain in the top flight and, with Rangers, Hearts an Hibs all in the second tier, a combined tally of only 33,588 was recorded.

Opening weekend crowds in Scotland’s top flight, per season

2001 – 116,038 2017 – 110,583 2018 – 109,196 2019 – 107,818 2022 – 106173 2004 – 104,798 2008 – 101,541 2006 – 100, 230 2009 – 98,135 2000 – 98,067 2005 – 96,978 2007 – 95,222 2003 – 94,291 2011 – 87,064 2013 – 84,672 2012 – 83,995 2015 – 83,623 2016 – 82,550 2010 – 80,643 2021 – 44,097 *crowds restricted by percentage capacity 2014 – 33,588 *five games on opening weekend 2020 – 50 *behind closed doors

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