We sponsored a question in the Office for National Statistics’ International Passenger Survey for 2014. The results showed that slightly more than 800,000 inbound visitors went to a football match – almost one in every 43 visitors. This figure is up from around 750,000 in 2010.
The table below shows the markets generating the most live-football-watching visitors. However propensity to watch live football shows a different list with Norway leading at 11% of all visits featuring football watching; Malta and Thailand (both 9%) finish off the top three.
Of the visitors who gave their primary journey purpose to the UK to ‘watch sport,’ almost three quarters attended a football match, confirming out of the live sports on offer in Britain, it’s football that is attracting the largest volume of inbound visitors.
Visits including live football
|Market||Visits including live football|
Spend and duration
Average spend per visit for football spectators is £855 whereas those who didn’t attend a match had an average spend of £628. The group with the highest attendance is males aged 25-34 with a total close to 160,000. Although two-in-five of those going to a football match were visiting just to ‘watch sport’, over 40,000 international business visitors also managed to find the time to go to a football match during their stay.
There is a wide variation in visit duration, depending on the main journey purpose. Visitors whose primary motivation for visiting is to ‘watch sport’ stay in Britain for an average duration of 2.5 nights. The average trip duration of business visitors who attend a football match is more than twice the length of business visitors who don’t attend a football match.
It has been found that not only does football encourage visitors to come to Britain, but it encourages them to explore different parts of Britain such as North West England and Wales.
% of visits including live football
|Region||% of visits including live football|
|North West England||10.8%||Scotland||2.0%|
|North East England||5.6%||East Midlands||1.9%|
|Wales||2.5%||East of England||1.5%|
|Yorkshire||2.4%||South West England||1.4%|
|London||2.2%||South East England||1.3%|
A follow up question in the survey regarding the stadia visited helps us see what is attracting visitors to certain regions. Responses showed that Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium had the highest attendance of 109,000 inbound visitors.
Our report on football tourism in Britain (PDF, 1.52MB) covers the profile of international visitors who attended football matches during their stay.