The highest average attendances in Europe’s top 5 leagues last season were again found in the Bundesliga, according to a new study carried out by KPMG Football Benchmark.
The Bundesliga has the highest average stadium capacity in Europe, and an average of over 41,000 fans attended German league games last season – 5,000 more than the average weekly attendance of the Premier League.
While the Bundesliga is helped by the large crowds of Borussia Dortmund (the largest on average in Europe last season) and Bayern Munich (4th largest), KPMG’s study shows that numerous clubs throughout the league benefit from high attendances. In fact, “as many as eight clubs, more than any other domestic competition, reported attendances above 41,000 spectators – the league’s average.”
The Premier League is well-known for fans filling their grounds week after week, but a number of clubs still have smaller grounds than their German counterparts, so while grounds may be more full, they remain in second place in terms of average attendance (36,000). The promotion of Newcastle United from the Championship (St James’ Park has a capacity of 52,405) and Tottenham Hotspur’s relocation to Wembley (capacity of 90,000) will help close the gap, though this will be offset by the fact relegated Sunderland had the 7th highest average attendance in the league in 2016/17 (41,286).
None of Europe’s other three top leagues were able to break the 30,000 average weekly attendance barrier, with La Liga (28,000) closest to the Premier League, followed by Serie A (22,000) and Ligue 1 (21,000). Spain’s top flight benefits from the huge crowds that religiously follow Barcelona and Real Madrid, but there are also large attendances at Sevilla and Atletico Madrid (who will move into a bigger stadium next season), and if performances pick up at underperforming Valencia and Real Betis, their grounds are likely to be more than 60% full as they were on average last season.
While there are reasons for Spanish football fans to be positive, KPMG remark that Italy’s top flight has “arguably the largest room for improvement across the leagues under review”. The biggest attendances last season came at Inter (47,000) and Milan (40,000), and given the investment particularly the Rossoneri have made this summer larger attendances should be expected next season. But other than the two Milanese sides, only Fiorentina, Juventus, Napoli and Roma had a higher average attendance than the average for the whole league (22,000), indicating that while the league’s top clubs are followed by sizeable numbers of fans, teams further down the league are backed by small numbers of fans. Two clubs (Crotone and Empoli) even had average attendances of less than 10,000 in 2016/17.
Ligue 1 may even soon overtake Serie A given that a number of stadiums were recently redeveloped in France for Euro 2016. However, last season clubs failed to take advantage of this as the average remained stable at 21,000. Curiously, the lowest average attendance in France last season was at Monaco, who played some scintillating football as they were crowned champions. French football still has much to do to bring fans back to the stadiums, though the world record transfer of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain is likely to have some pulling power for fans of other clubs when the Parisians come to town.