EFL opening weekend: Over half a million supporters attend matches as Championship, League One and League Two return | Football News

Over half a million supporters attended matches on the opening weekend of the EFL as the Championship, League One and League Two returned to action.

A total of 543,168 supporters went to games across England and Wales, making it the highest aggregate opening weekend attendance this century.

There were over 90,000 more fans in attendance than the opening day of the 2022/23 season, representing a 20.7 per cent rise.

TV audience figures painted a similar picture. The opening weekend of the Championship was the most watched on Sky Sports ever, with an average of 631,000 viewers across all four matches, up 77 per cent compared to last season.

Viewing figures for Soccer Saturday, with new host Simon Thomas, were also up 50 per cent on the opening weekend last season.

In the Championship, there was a rise of 44.2 per cent in attendances compared to the opening weekend of 2022/23, with 317,272 supporters attending across 12 fixtures.

Ipswich’s victory over Sunderland was the highest-attended fixture of the weekend, with over 44,000 supporters at the Stadium of Light, while Leeds United and Leicester City both welcomed over 30,000 in their first games back in the Championship.

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Watch the pick of the best goals from the EFL Championship from the opening weekend of the season

Excluding play-offs, Leeds’ 2-2 draw with Cardiff City was the most-watched Championship fixture on Sky Sports since 2017, with a peak audience of nearly a million viewers.

In League One, Derby saw 29,957 supporters at Pride Park in their match against Wigan, with 163,223 supporters in grounds across English football’s third tier, a 9.6 per cent rise on last season’s opening day.

In League Two, there were over 62,000 supporters in attendance at matches, despite one weather postponement.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “With over half a million supporters in stadiums across the country, a record number watching at home and goals flowing at games in every division, it really was a fantastic opening EFL weekend for all involved.

“Attendances last year were the highest in seven decades and the evidence from the opening weekend suggests the appetite for live football is only continuing to rise.

“This, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the unwavering support and commitment of our clubs and their supporters. It is testament to the ever-improving quality on show across the EFL and it is no surprise that so many people want to be part of the live game experience.”