Young adults have driven a year-on-year average increase of 2.8% in attendances at UK sports events since 2012, with the overall ticketed total reaching 74.6 million this year, according to new research by the Two Circles marketing agency.

The total – which includes only paid, ticketed events for professional sports events held in the UK – is 800,000 higher than last year, which equalled the 73.8 million recorded six years ago, when London hosted the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. The total will reach 77 million next year and will continue to rise into the next decade, Two Circles added.

However, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the research is that the percentage of ticket-buyers who are between the ages of 16 and 24 years old has increased from 15% in 2012 to 23% in 2018. This year saw Glasgow co-host the first edition of the European Championships multi-sport event (pictured).

According to the study, one in every three UK citizens have attended at least one live professional sports event this year, with football generating a cumulative total audience of 49.8 million – by far the largest sport, followed by horse racing on 5.9 million and rugby union on 5.3 million.

Other sports to feature in the rankings included cricket (2.4 million), rugby league (2.2 million), motorsport (1.8 million) and equestrian (1.6 million).

Two Circles CEO Gareth Balch said: “The sports rights-holders prospering most are those who have understood what their audiences – and increasingly younger audiences – want from a live experience, adapting their product where required to ensure fans return, or creating new events to grow their fan base.”

Image: Rory