Deloitte: UK sporting events attract 67 million visitors

19 December 2014 3 min. read
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Professional sporting events in the UK were attended by 67 million in 2014, finds a recently published report by Deloitte’s UK Sports Business Group. The British public continues to have a huge appetite for sports, with attendance growing at 3% per year.

In their report, Deloitte looked at the sporting landscape in terms of attendance – with free events like the UK stages of the 2014 Tour de France excluded from the analysis. The report highlights that the UK’s “golden decade of sport” continues to attract record numbers of visitors.

The largest single sport, in terms of attendance, was football, 42.8 million attracting to the beautiful game. Rugby managed to come in third, bringing 4.9 million to the stands. Cricket fans were fourth, with 2.2 million spending an afternoon to watch the pitch. The UK’s love of horses brought equestrian events in at second, and were attended by 7 million. Alan Switzer, director in the Sports Business Group, commenting: “Horseracing continues to be the UK’s second most popular sport – after football – in terms of attendances. No other nation in the world can boast of having such a high quality and varied set of meetings.”

Sports - Overall Attendances 2014

This year then, continued to see high turnouts for UK sporting events. The 67 million visitors number in 2014 was lower than 2012, when 75 million attended sporting events. However, that year featured the Summer Olympics and Paraplegic Games, which brought in 11 million visitors between them. Year on year however, growth of sporting attendance has grown 3% and, leaving out large events like the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth games, this year has shown itself as highly successful. 

Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commenting: “2014 proved to be another hugely successful year for sport in the UK. Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games was a highlight, with 1.3m tickets sold for the 11 days of sporting competition, making it Scotland’s biggest-ever sporting event. Across all professional sports events, the total number of spectators exceeded 67m in 2014, which demonstrates the UK public’s huge appetite for watching live sport.”

In terms of yearly repeating events, Wimbledon again attracted the largest number, with 491,000 watching the championships over 13 days. The second most visited sporting rally was Formula 1’s 50th Silverstone Grand Prix, attracting 298,000 over 3 days. In total the top ten attended sporting events attracted 2.5 million in 2014.  

Top 10 attended sporting events in the UK in 2014

Jones concluding that: “Sport has an innate ability to unite a nation, and this characteristic is evident in several of the best attended events of the year. Whether it be a continent coming together to support the European team in the Ryder Cup, or a nation getting behind Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton and Rory McIlroy in their respective quests for glory, sport is a powerful tool which can do much to galvanise national pride.”