Festive football draws in the crowds for EFL clubs.
Over half a million football fans attended EFL matches over Christmas as EFL clubs welcomed bumper crowds that ranked as some of the highest in the country and surpassed the average attendances of some of Europe’s biggest leagues.
The Boxing Day fixture list, which this year incorporated matches on Tuesday 27 December, is renowned as one of the most popular days in the football calendar and the stats once again illustrate clearly that the Christmas tradition of attending a match is still going strong.
Matches from all three divisions of the EFL boasted a combined attendance of more than 500,000 – a 7% increase from the same period last year. Sky Bet Championship clubs experienced a 25% increase, while there was a 17% rise for Sky Bet League One clubs who welcomed nearly 135,000 supporters through their turnstiles.
It was a match at Bramall Lane that attracted the fifth highest attendance in the EFL and the tenth highest in the country as a crowd of 25,821 watched Sheffield United beat Oldham Athletic, surpassing crowd totals at four Premier League matches, including the games at Swansea City, Hull City, Burnley and Watford.
When compared to some of Europe’s major leagues in Italy, France and Holland, Sheffield United’s gate surpasses average attendances so far this season for clubs in Serie A (21,414), Ligue 1 (20,003) and the Eredivisie (18,907).
Bradford City also welcomed more than 20,000 fans to the Northern Commercials Stadium (higher than three Premier League gates), while a combined total of nearly 50,000 people turned out for games at Bolton Wanderers, Bristol Rovers, MK Dons and Oxford United.
More than 300,000 fans turned out for matches in the Sky Bet Championship alone - an average of over 25,000 across the 12 festive fixtures – and it was Newcastle United who had the highest overall attendance in the EFL and the fourth highest attendance of any match in the country with over 52,000 supporters witnessing the home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
That attendance would see the Toon Army outnumber average attendances in the Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga, as would the gate of 41,337 at Villa Park as Aston Villa welcomed the sixth highest attendance in the country for their game against Burton Albion.
Elsewhere in the Sky Bet Championship, both the Amex Stadium and Pride Park welcomed more than 30,000 fans for respective home wins for Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County.
In Sky Bet League Two, matches averaged over 5,500 with a combined total of 66,634 adding to the festive numbers. The best attended match in Sky Bet League Two was at Home Park with over 12,000 supporters there for the game between Plymouth Argyle and Wycombe Wanderers while more than 9,000 made Luton’s match at Kenilworth Road.
Top 10 EFL fixtures (Boxing Day and Tuesday 27 December)
1. Newcastle United v Sheffield Wednesday (Championship) - 52,179
2. Aston Villa v Burton Albion (Championship) - 41,337
3. Derby County v Birmingham City (Championship) - 32,616
4. Brighton & Hove Albion v QPR (Championship) - 30,176
5. Sheffield United v Oldham Athletic (League One) - 25,821
6. Wolves v Bristol City (Championship) - 24,669
7. Huddersfield Town v Nottingham Forest (Championship) - 22,100
8. Bradford City v Scunthorpe United (League One) - 21,874
9. Preston North End v Leeds United (Championship) - 21,255
10. Reading v Norwich City (Championship) - 21,180