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League of Ireland reports surge in attendances with top flight crowds rising by nearly a third since 2019

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Attendances in the League of Ireland’s SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division have dramatically risen by nearly a third (29%) with an extra 110,660 people attending in 2022 compared to the last full season with crowds before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.

Crowds in the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division have also risen by 135%, compared to 2019, with an extra 102,205 attendees. 

The popularity of League of Ireland football has been demonstrated across all three divisions including the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division which had 23,907 people at games in 2022 as the women’s game continues to grow.

As many Clubs boasted several sold-out fixtures in 2022, some Clubs have experienced dramatic increases since 2019 with Drogheda United (169%) and Shelbourne (172%) benefiting from increased fanbases. 

St Patrick’s Athletic have also been buoyed by the 2021 Extra.ie FAI Men’s Cup Final win and increased crowds which nearly doubled (81%) since 2019. 

In official figures compiled by the League of Ireland, SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division champions Shamrock Rovers have enjoyed the increased capacity at Tallaght Stadium with a rise in average attendances of 37% from 3,384 in 2019 to 5,379 in 2022. 

Despite playing 2020 and 2021 in the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division, Cork City saw crowds rise by 29% from 2,505 to 3,517 in the season which saw them promoted to the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division. 

The largest crowd of the season saw a sold out Tallaght Stadium hosting Shamrock Rovers and Derry City which had 7,726 people in attendance to see the Hoops lift the title. 

With 32,412 people at the Aviva Stadium for the Extra.ie FAI Men’s Cup Final 2022, it has been an unprecedented year for League of Ireland football.

The SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division, meanwhile, is continuing to grow every year with 885 fans on average at games each week in 2022 as well as a record crowd at the EVOKE.ie FAI Women’s Cup Final 2022 with 5,073 in attendance at Tallaght Stadium. 

In total: 

  • 486,365 people attended games in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division in 2022 compared to 375,705 people in 2019
  • 178,000 people attended games in the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division in 2022 compared to 75,795 people in 2019
  • 23,907 people attended games in the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division in 2022
  • An average of 2,687 people attended SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division games last season (up 29% from 2,087 in 2019)
  • 1,193 supporters on average attended SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division games (up 112% from 561 in 2019)

With 2023 approaching fast, several League of Ireland Clubs have also reported record Season Ticket sales already with excellent value offered by clubs across the SSE Airtricity Men’s and Women’s Premier Divisions and SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division. 

Commenting on the rise in attendances, League of Ireland Director Mark Scanlon said: “It has been brilliant to see the rise in attendances right across the League of Ireland in almost all Clubs for both men’s and women’s leagues. With some Clubs experiencing modest increases due to capacity restrictions, the figures also tell us a further need for increased investment in League of Ireland grounds as popularity booms to record levels. Although we are often pleased to see sold out signs go up, we know the serious potential we have for attracting new fans to the league and these figures further back that up. We must give immense credit to the Clubs too who are going from strength to strength in engaging with their communities and bringing in bigger fanbases. We look forward to an even better 2023.”

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