Scottish football attendances ‘highest in Europe’ based on population

Attendances at Scottish Premiership games are the highest in Europe on a per capita basis. Picture: SNS Group
Attendances at Scottish Premiership games are the highest in Europe on a per capita basis. Picture: SNS Group
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Attendances in Scotland’s top flight are the highest in Europe when population size is taken into consideration, new data has revealed.

The European Professional Football League (EPFL) commissioned its second Fan Attendance Report, which was made public on Monday.

The organisation, which represents 32 leagues in 25 countries, measured attendances at matches over seven consecutive seasons, from 2010/11 until the 2016/1 campaign.

Among the main findings were that the English Premier League (EPL) had the highest cumulative attendance in Europe, and the English Football League (EFL) saw the highest gates outwith Europe’s top tiers.

But the Scottish Premiership leads the way throughout Europe on a per capita basis.

Germany’s Bundesliga saw the highest average attendance per match during the measured period, with an average of 42,388. The EPL came second with 35,870 and was followed by La Liga in third, Serie A in fourth and Ligue 1 in fifth.

The English Championship placed seventh on the list of average gates per game - just in front of the German second tier, the 2. Bundesliga - with the Scottish Premiership in tenth place.

But Scotland outperforms Germany, England, Spain, Italy and France when the country’s relative populations are brought into the equation.

This is despite attendances in Scotland falling by nearly three per cent over the seven-season period.

Attendances are down 1.5 per cent across Europe over the same time period, with 16 out of the 25 countries experiencing lower gates and just nine enjoying bigger crowds.

England was one of the nine countries to see an increase in attendances, with teams in England’s fourth tier - League Two - experiencing higher attendances than top-flight crowds in Finland, Serbia, Greece and Kazakhstan.

Belgium, Sweden and Israel also experienced a bounce in attendances.

However, four countries - Greece, Romania, Ukraine and Turkey - all suffered from what the report described as the ‘adverse impact of financial and geopolitical crises’.

But while Scotland can boast the highest attendances on a per capita basis, it lags behind other countries in terms of ‘utilisation’ - that is, the percentage of tickets sold per match.

England’s Premier League grounds are typically 95 per cent full, according to the report, ahead of Germany’s Bundesliga arenas (91 per cent) and the Dutch Eredivisie on 88 per cent.

The report highlighted the increased stadium capacities at many arenas across Europe, adding: “The new arenas developed in Poland and in France for Euro 2012 and Euro 2016... contributed significantly to boost the figures registered in their leagues.

“We envisage Russia may well experience a similar trend after the upcoming World Cup.”

The report concluded that attendances remained stable throughout the measured period, with more than 120 million football fans attending European League matches throughout last season.