The head of the National Arenas Association (NAA) is expecting a “bumper year” despite a slight decline in attendance in 2016.

Martin Ingham, who was appointed to chairman of the NAA in January 2016, gave a positive assessment in an interview with Music Week.

Some concern was raised last month when data from the NAA suggested a year-on-year drop of 12 per cent in attendance at its 22 venues in 2016. Some 11.1 million people attended 2,046 events during the 12-month period, compared to 12.7 million in 2015.

The European Arenas Association (EAA) attracted 17.6 million people to its 36 venues in 2016, which was up by around 25 per cent on 2015.

With the likes of Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Metallica and Take That touring this year, it is believed that 2017 could be a year of big returns.

“The sector is in good health,” Ingham told Music Week.

“There tends to be one really good year in every five-year cycle and perhaps one year that is the weakest, along with two to three standard years. Last year’s figures were a little bit surprising.

Ingham, who was appointed chief executive of Motorpoint Arena Nottingham at the start of this year, said his own venue had enjoyed a good 2016.

He said: “Our 2016 was better than 2015, so we were slightly against the trend. But 2017 is looking like the bumper year in the current cycle.”