Championship attendances usurp Serie A

LONDON - Attendances outside England's Premier League rose again this season to a 50-year high despite the recession, the Football League announced on Tuesday. Total attendances for the three divisions below the top flight soared above 16 million for the fifth consecutive season with the Championship retaining its place as the fourth most watched league in Europe. England's second tier is more popular than Italy's Serie A with only the Premier League, Spain's Primera Liga and Germany's Bundesliga pulling in bigger crowds. "Given the prevailing financial climate, maintaining this progress will be a significant challenge for clubs," Football League chairman Brian Mawhinney said is a statement. While crowds are booming, the impact of relegation from the Premier League is still harsh with Southampton, Charlton Athletic and Norwich City, all recently top flight clubs, relegated this season to the third tier of English football.