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SBD Global/February 6, 2017/International Football

'New Generation' Of Fans Has English Football On Pace To Set Attendance Records

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The emergence of "a new generation" of football fans has put English football "on its way to a record-breaking season," according to Brian Oliver of REUTERS. Across all four divisions -- the Premier League, League Championship and Leagues One and Two -- "the average crowd is on course to exceed 15,000 for the first time in more than 50 years." The "biggest rise" is in the League Championship, "where crowds are at their highest level" since '54, partly because so many "big" clubs are in the division this season. Another factor, club officials said, "is the number of children being attracted to their local clubs rather than supporting a glamorous Premier League team." Of the 24 League Championship clubs, 15 have competed in European football, and the "best-supported of them," Newcastle United, is attracting more than 51,000 to home games. Football League crowds "have never been so high since the Premier League started" in '92. Leagues One and Two "are also heading for an increase on last season." League Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion CEO Paul Barber, who is also a director of the English Football League, said, "We have created a new generation of football supporters." EFL Chair Ian Lenagan said, "The Championship is clearly a very, very strong league, and Leagues One and Two seem to be following it." Lenagan said that "youngsters" whose parents followed "big Premier League clubs" such as Liverpool and ManU "were now following local teams as a result of hard work within communities." He added, "But it takes a generation, a 15-20 year cycle" (REUTERS, 2/3).
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