Football League crowds hit 50-year high

LONDON - Attendances in England's Football League - the top three divisions outside the Premier League - reached a 50-year high of more than 17 million in the season just ended, officials said on Friday.

A total of 17.1 million supporters attended the 1,656 league matches played during 2009/10, an increase of 4.4 percent on last season and the highest aggregate crowd figure since the 1959/60 season, the league said in a statement.

Crowds have more than doubled during the last 25 years with the average now over 10,000.

The Championship has retained its place as the fourth most-watched league in Europe with a total audience of more than 9.9 million fans, at an average of almost 18,000.

Only the Bundesliga (13.1 million), the Premier League (12.9) and Spain's La Liga (11.0) are higher. Italy's Serie A attracted 9.1 million and France's Ligue 1 had 7.6 million.

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