English soccer’s top-tier Premier League was attended by a record 15.2 million fans during the 2021-22 season, the first time that total attendance has surpassed the 15-million mark.

The figure, specifically 15,195,647 across all 380 matches played over the season, was a 4% increase on the 2018-19 season, which was the last one not affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

It equates to an average attendance of 39,989 compared to 38,484 for 2018-19, and average utilization of stadiums of 97.7% compared to 95.1%.

The season was the first since the start of the pandemic that crowd numbers were not restricted to some extent.

In 2020, the restrictions saw total attendance at UK sports events fall by 80% to 15.7 million, down from a record 75.1 million in 2019.

Despite the lifting of attendance restrictions in 2021-22, there were a number of postponed games as a result of Covid-19 outbreaks at clubs.

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The season was also notable for the takeovers of Newcastle United and Chelsea.

Manchester City ran out as champions on the final day of the season a point ahead of Liverpool. Norwich City, Watford, and Burnley were relegated, meanwhile, to be replaced by Fulham, Bournemouth, and Nottingham Forest, who were promoted from the second-tier Championship.

Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, said: “I’d like to say thank you to the fans for everything they’ve done this season, coming back in numbers. That shows how fantastic the competition has been and how brilliant the support is for it.”

Towards the end of last year, England’s Football Association governing body unveiled a plan to triple the average attendance of matches at the top-tier Women’s Super League competition by 2024 as part of a three-year strategy for growing professional women’s soccer in the country.