EFL: More than 18m fans watched matches in 2016-17

Newcastle fans
Newcastle supporters enjoyed their team winning immediate promotion back to the Premier League

The English Football League recorded its highest cumulative attendances for almost 60 years in 2016-17, with more than 18 million fans watching matches.

Crowds attending Championship, League One and League Two games were up by 11% on the 2015-16 campaign, and the most since 1958-59 when 18.8m turned out.

The figure was boosted by almost two million fans of relegated Newcastle and Aston Villa attending home fixtures.

However, there was a 3% rise for the 67 clubs in the EFL this season and last.

In the Championship, more than 11m supporters went through the turnstiles, with Newcastle boasting the biggest average attendance of more than 51,000 and Villa second with more than 32,000.

League One and League Two champions Sheffield United and Portsmouth had the highest average crowds in their respective divisions - the Blades with just under 22,000 and Pompey recording close to 17,000.

The three highest cumulative attendances came in the post-war period from 1948 to 1950, when more than 23m people watched games in tiers two to four each campaign.

"It is clear to see that the EFL continues to be one of the most watched football competitions and our clubs deserve huge credit for continuing to find new and innovative ways of encouraging supporters through their turnstiles," EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said.

"We know that supporters continue to be the lifeblood of our game and the long-term future of the football in this country is looking very healthy, with more and more people choosing to follow their local clubs week in, week out."

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