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Pro football leagues enjoy substantial increase in attendance in '19

All Headlines 15:36 December 10, 2019

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's first and second-division professional football leagues both posted a major increase in attendance this year from the last, data showed on Tuesday.

The K League released attendance figures for both the K League 1 and K League 2.

This year, just under 1.83 million fans went to K League 1 matches, up from 1.24 million a year ago. In the K League 2, there were a little over 536,000 fans this year, compared to about 310,600 last year.

Starting last year, the K League has been counting only paying spectators, rather than those who got in with free tickets given away by teams in an attempt to inflate attendance numbers.

The combined figure from the two leagues, about 2.38 million, is the highest since the two-division system was put in place in 2013, when 2.28 million fans went to K League matches.

This file photo from March 17, 2019, shows fans attending a K League 1 match between the home team Daegu FC and Ulsan Hyundai FC at Forest Arena in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Daegu FC in the K League 1 posted the largest increase, going from 66,837 fans at home last year to 203,942 this year, for a 30.5 percent jump.

Of the 22 teams in these two leagues, only the Jeonnam Dragons, who got relegated to the second division for 2019, suffered a drop in home attendance.

In the K League 1, seven clubs averaged more than 8,000 fans per home match, compared to just two in 2018.

The K League said the intense battle for the championship that went down to the wire helped keep fans interested until the end. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors clinched their third consecutive title on the final day of the season on Dec. 1, squeezing past Ulsan Hyundai FC to become only the second K League club to accomplish a "three-peat."

The league office said there was more last-minute drama this season than the last, with 52 goals being scored during second-half stoppage time, compared to 40 a year ago.

This file photo from July 7, 2019, shows fans watching a K League 1 match between the home team Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Seongnam FC at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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