By Daniel Hunter

The UK’s amazing year of sport was reflected in attendances of over 75m at professional sports events during 2012, according to analysis by the Deloitte Sports Business Group.

This was reinforced by huge television audiences for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and other established annual sporting events.

“The demand and passion for sport in the UK was reflected in the 11 million tickets sold for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games," Dan Jones, Partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented.

"When added to the 64m attendees at other professional UK sport events, there was a total of 75m visits to sporting events across the UK in 2012. The British public’s appetite for attending sporting events, in absolute terms and relative to its population size, is unmatched anywhere in the world.”

This year has also seen huge television viewing figures as sport dominated the list of most watched programmes. Jones added: “20m people watched Usain Bolt win the Olympic 100 metres in London, while there were over 6m viewers of Jonnie Peacock’s victory in the T44 100 metres at the Paralympic Games.”

Outside of the Games, the top ten attended sporting events had a combined attendance of 2.4m, and include many of the world’s great sporting occasions. Horseracing and equestrian events accounted for five of the top ten attended UK sporting events.

Alan Switzer, Director in the Sports Business Group, commented: “The diversity and quality of British horseracing is respected around the world and is reflected in the crowds that continue to flock to its racecourses for the top meetings. Nearly 11m people watched the last Grand National on the BBC before its move to Channel 4 for 2013.”

2012 was a golden year for tennis with Andy Murray winning Great Britain’s first Grand Slam since 1936, to add to his Olympic gold and silver medals. Jones added: “Wimbledon continues to be the country’s highest attended sporting event, while the ATP World Tour Finals in London go from strength to strength — together close to three quarters of a million people attended the two tournaments. Andy Murray’s attempt to win the men’s title at Wimbledon was the most watched non-Olympic sporting event with a peak audience of 16.9m for the final.”

Some of the other findings from the analysis by Deloitte include:

- Football contributed over 42m of total sports attendances, due to the perennial popularity of professional club football through the top five tiers of England and Scotland’s four divisions;
- The Premier League is second only to the Bundesliga as the highest attended domestic league in Europe, with the Championship an impressive fourth in 2011/12;
- The dramatic 2011/12 Premier League season was reflected in record viewing figures with the critical Manchester derby in April attracting a peak audience of over 4.4m — the highest ever UK pay-tv sports audience (with many more watching in the pubs and clubs around the country);
- Both codes of rugby recorded increased total attendances in 2011/12, continuing the strong growth of recent years;
- The poor weather during the summer was the main driver behind the modest falls in horseracing and cricket attendances with many events abandoned or suffering from lower attendances.

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