Premier League lures overseas visitors to UK

Leiva Lucas of Liverpool closes down Stephane Sessegnon of Sunderland at Anfield, a popular destination for tourists Foreign flavour: Liverpool's Brazilian player Lucas and Sunderland's Beninese player Sessegnon

The boom in foreign players at Premier League teams is being matched by interest from overseas football fans, says tourist authority Visit Britain.

It says that 750,000 visitors who came to the UK last year experienced a football game, spending £595m in total, or the equivalent of £776 per fan.

The most popular stadiums for overseas visitors were those of Manchester United, Liverpool, and Manchester City.

The biggest number of football visitors were from Ireland, Norway and the US.

Other countries whose residents showed a passion for English football were Germany, Holland, Japan, China, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Popular clubs for overseas visitors also included Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, while many people also made a visit to Wembley Stadium.

The greatest proportion of inbound visitors going to a football match was between January and March.

"Not only do some of the best players in the world want to play in Britain, but their international fans want to follow them here to savour the atmosphere of a match," said Patricia Yates of Visit Britain.

Visit Britain introduced a Premier League section on its website earlier this year.

Its football visitor report was based on a question it sponsored on the 2010 Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey - a survey of passengers entering and leaving the UK.

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