Press releases

More than 70m tickets sold for UK sports events in 2015

16 December 2015

  • Professional sports events in the UK attract more than 70m, up 5%
  • England 2015 was the best attended Rugby World Cup ever with 2.5m tickets sold
  • Wimbledon remains the best attended annual ticketed UK sports event

Attendances at professional sports events in the UK exceeded 70m in 2015, according to analysis by the Deloitte Sports Business Group. Attendances rose by 5% from 2014, thanks in part to England’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup, and the overall total is second only to the record of 75m set in 2012, a year which was boosted by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented: “The UK public have again demonstrated their great passion for attending live sport. England 2015 was the biggest Rugby World Cup ever, with the 2.5m tickets sold breaking the attendance record. This helped drive a 5% growth in spectator numbers across all professional sports events in 2015 – to more than 70m – as sport continues to grip the nation.”

Excluding the Rugby World Cup, the top ten best attended individual sporting events in 2015 attracted a combined audience of 2.5m, reflecting the enduring appeal of the UK’s well-established annual sporting events. Leading the way once again is Wimbledon, with just under half a million spectators attending during the fortnight. In terms of attendees-per-event-day, Formula 1’s British Grand Prix is the clear front-runner, averaging over 100,000 per day.

There were three horseracing events in the top 10 in 2015. Royal Ascot, in third-place overall, attracted almost 300,000 visitors over the five days.

Alan Switzer, director in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented: “British racecourses are on track for record attendances of 6.2m in 2015. Flagship events such as Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival and the Epsom Derby are firmly established in the top tier of best attended annual UK sporting events, whilst the breadth and depth of other meetings throughout the year ensure horseracing remains one of the UK’s most popular spectator sports.”

Further findings from Deloitte’s analysis include:

  • Football dominates the overall picture (43.4m), underlining its week in week out popularity across the nation. The Premier League (13.7m) and the Championship (10m) are first and third respectively in terms of aggregate attendances in Europe;
  • The popularity of women’s football continues to grow, with the Women’s Super League 1 achieving a 48% increase in attendances in 2015. The third place finish of the England national team at the Women’s World Cup had a positive impact on the domestic game;
  • Rugby Union attendances, boosted by the 2.5m at the Rugby World Cup, climbed to 7.5m. An estimated 460,000 overseas fans travelled to the Rugby World Cup in 2015;
  • More than 2.3m spectators attended cricket matches in 2015, the highest overall attendance figure since the ECB was founded 18 years ago. All three domestic competitions (1.5m) achieved year-on-year increases, and 0.8m attended international matches, the highlight of which was England reclaiming the Ashes;
  • Lewis Hamilton was once again the star attraction at Silverstone, as 335,000 spectators took in the three days of action. Hamilton won his third British Grand Prix en route to his third Formula 1 World Championship, becoming only the second British driver after Sir Jackie Stewart to achieve the feat;
  • 2015 was another golden year for British tennis, culminating in Andy Murray inspiring the GB team to their first Davis Cup triumph since 1936. Almost three quarters of a million people (747,000) attended Wimbledon and the ATP World Tour Finals;
  • Golf’s Open Championship attendance of 237,000 was 17% higher than in 2014, as strong winds and heavy rains forced the tournament to enter a fifth day of competition, the first Monday finish since 1988;
  • The appeal of the NFL to UK audiences strengthened further, as over a quarter of a million (252,000) turned out for the three NFL fixtures held at Wembley in 2015;
  • Two new individual events have entered the top ten sporting events attended in 2015, MotoGP’s British Grand Prix (154,000) and the Badminton Horse Trials (147,000) (replacing the Ryder Cup and Aintree Grand National from 2014);
  • Although overall attendances for the year fell short of the record of 75m set in 2012, stripping out the one-off effects of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and the Rugby World Cup in 2015, attendances rose by 6% in this period;
  • The UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the European Aquatics Championships and the FIH Women's Champions Trophy are just some of the UK hosted international sporting events to look forward to in 2016.

Download a full version of the infographic.

George Parrett
Deloitte LLP
+44 (0) 20 7007 7285

Overall attendances 2015 (m)

Note: Where applicable, figures are based on the 2014/15 or 2015 season.
Source: Event organisers; Deloitte analysis

Top 10 attended annual sporting events in the UK in 2015 ('000s)

Note: The above excludes the Rugby World Cup as well as free sporting events. Events such as the London Marathon would be comfortably at the top of a list which included those events for which admission was free.

1) 20,000 spectators also attended "Fans' Thursday" at Silverstone.
2) The Open attendances include 41,000 spectators at the four practice days.
3) The Epsom Derby attendance includes an estimated 100,000 attendees on the Hill who pay limited admission fees. 

Source: Event organisers; Deloitte analysis 

Notes to editors

About the Sports Business Group at Deloitte
Over the last 20 years Deloitte has developed a unique focus on the business of sport. Our specialist Sports Business Group offers a multi-disciplined expert service with dedicated people and skills capable of adding significant value to the business of sport. Whether it is benchmarking or strategic business reviews, operational turnarounds, revenue enhancement strategies or stadium/venue development plans, business planning, market and demand analysis, acquisitions, due diligence, expert witness, audits or tax planning; we have worked with more clubs, leagues, governing bodies, stadia developers, event organisers, commercial partners, financiers and investors than any other adviser.

For further information on our services you can access our website at

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

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