By Jonathan Davies

Attendances at professional sports events in the UK hits 67 million in 2014, according to Deloitte's sport business group.

Unsurprisingly, football led the way with 42.8 million. But there were arguably some big surprises in the top 10, with five of the spaces being taken up by horse racing and other equestrian events.

Alan Switzer, director in the Sports Business Group, said: "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."

This year's Commonwealth Games, hosted in Glasgow, became Scotland's biggest ever sporting event with more than 1.3 million attendees.

Rugby attendances reached 4.9 million in the 2013/14 season, with much bigger numbers expected in 2015 as England hosts the Rugby World Cup.

The figures suggest that attendances to professional sports events has increased by around three million since London 2012. Total attendances in 2012 were 75 million, but that was boosted by 11 million who watched the London Olympics and Paralympics. Stripping out the effects of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, sports attendances are up by around 3%, Deloitte said.

But the numbers don't include the huge attendances seen during the three opening stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and London. Deloitte said it hadn't included those figures "due to attendance being largely free of charge". But it did acknowledge that around 4.8 million people took to the streets to support the Grand Depart.

There were also three stages of the Giro d'Italia which were held in Northern Ireland.

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